Haredi and IDF soldier Tal law Jerusalem 390.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
The Defense Ministry has given full military service exemptions to 633 haredi
men who received enlistment orders since the expiration of the “Tal Law,” which
systematically allowed such exemptions, on August 1, 2012.
Attorney-General’s Office notified the High Court of Justice of this number on
November 11, and also said that the Defense Ministry was “considering” the
exemption of another 1,803 yeshiva students scheduled for enlistment on December
This new round of mass exemptions follows the ministry’s cancellation
of military service orders for just over 608 haredi men back in
Since the expiration of the Tal law, haredi yeshiva students no
longer have a legal avenue for the indefinite postponement of military service
that they previously enjoyed, meaning that the law obligates them, like all
other eligible men of military age, to enlist in the IDF.
The new mass
exemptions have raised accusations from several legal rights groups, including
the Hiddush religious freedom lobbying group, that conscription orders sent to
haredi men after the law lapsed were merely a sop designed to get the High Court
to delay ruling on the petitions submitted to it on the issue.
Director and Reform Rabbi Uri Regev said that he was “amazed” at the
“Yeshiva students can relax,” he said. “It’s
becoming clear that the State of Israel sent them conscription orders merely to
deceive the High Court of Justice, and it doesn’t intend to draft even one
yeshiva student against his will.”
Several legal activism groups
submitted petitions to the court after the law expired, demanding the immediate
conscription of yeshiva students of military age in order that the state, and
more specifically the Defense Ministry, would be in compliance with the
At the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013, yeshiva students of the
1994 and 1995 annual cohorts received hundreds of conscription orders. Many of
them presented themselves at IDF recruiting offices, but refused to sign forms
on instruction from leading haredi rabbis.
It was believed that before
the conscription date, the government would pass legislation which it had been
drawing up on the issue, and that a new law would retroactively annul the
conscription orders. And because the Defense Ministry had instructed the IDF to
issue the conscription orders, the High Court delayed hearing the petitions
demanding immediate conscription of haredi men.
But although more than a
year has passed since the Tal law expired, new legislation on haredi enlistment
has yet to be passed.
According to Hiddush, 578 yeshiva students were
scheduled for conscription on November 21, and another 55 for December 4, but
these potential conscripts have now been exempted by the Defense
The 1,803 scheduled for conscription on December 22 are very
unlikely to be conscripted, given that the government bill is still being
debated in committee and is not expected to be passed before the enlistment
Attorney Gilad Barnea, who is working on the petition for Hiddush,
accused the Defense Minister and the government of “continuing to violate their
obligation to draft anyone who the law stipulates must perform military
service,” as well as violating the principles of equality.