Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Israel Defense Minister Approves Drafting Ultra-Orthodox | TOME


The Israeli Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, has recently approved a plan to start drafting ultra-Orthodox Jews into the military. This decision is expected to create further tension within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition government, which relies on the support of two ultra-Orthodox parties. These parties view conscription exemptions as crucial to maintaining their constituents in religious seminaries and away from the military, which they fear may challenge their traditional customs.

The ultra-Orthodox parties have been staunchly opposed to conscription, especially at a time when Israel’s military is looking to strengthen its forces amidst the ongoing conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. However, after consultations with top military officials, Gallant has given the green light for the first call-up of ultra-Orthodox men into the military in the coming month. This initial screening and evaluation process will help determine potential recruits, who typically begin their military service at the age of 18.

In Israel, citizens are required by law to serve in the military for a period of 24-32 months. While members of the Arab minority are mostly exempt from service, some do choose to enlist. Similarly, ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students have historically been exempt from military duty. However, a recent ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court mandated that the state must begin drafting ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students into the military.

The exemption of ultra-Orthodox individuals from military service has sparked public outcry in Israel, with many expressing frustration that the burden of fighting in Gaza is not being equally shared. Protests have erupted in recent months, with Israelis demanding a more equitable distribution of military service obligations. On the other hand, ultra-Orthodox protesters have taken to the streets, blocking roads and declaring “death before conscription” as their rallying cry.

The decision to draft ultra-Orthodox Jews into the military marks a significant shift in Israeli policy and is likely to have far-reaching implications for both the military and society at large. It remains to be seen how this move will impact the delicate balance of power within Netanyahu’s coalition government and whether it will lead to further divisions among its members.

As Israel grapples with internal tensions and external threats, the issue of military conscription continues to be a contentious and divisive issue. The decision to draft ultra-Orthodox Jews into the military represents a step towards greater equality in shouldering the responsibilities of national defense. However, it also underscores the challenges of balancing religious freedoms with the needs of a modern military force in a complex and volatile region.

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