TEL AVIV (JTA) – The controversy had sparked a national debate, raucous protests in the streets and the collapse of a historic government. That came in the months after the Israeli Supreme Court had nullified a law exempting haredi Orthodox Israelis from military service and given the government until Aug. 1 to draft a replacement law.
More than one week after the law’s implementation, the Israel Defense Forces has yet to encounter any significant problems in putting haredi men through the draft process, according to a military source with knowledge of the issue.
The IDF had no official comment on the new process.
In previous weeks, thousands of haredim had gathered in the streets, holding protest signs declaring that they would rather spend their lives in prison than serve in the “Zionist army.” Another protest in Tel Aviv declared that secular Israelis, who had always served, would no longer be “suckers.”
But political stalemate won out. No law was passed and a broad government coalition created to solve this issue broke up.
The day before the Aug. 1 deadline, Defense Minister Ehud Barak sent out a news release stating that the IDF had one month to formulate guidelines on haredi military service that would accord with the Military Service Law of 1986, which subjects haredim to the same service requirements as all other Jewish Israelis. Haredim have been subject to the law since Aug. 1, and will be until the Knesset passes a new law on haredi service.
Under the 1986 law, 18-year-old haredi boys -- until now exempt from the military draft while studying in a yeshiva -- are eligible for the draft; their summons may come even before their 18th birthday. The penalty for refusing the summons: three years in prison. continue...