IDF awaits instructions with Tal Law set to expire

By August 1, Defense Ministry will have to decide whether haredim are drafted or exempt from military service.

Haredi anti-Tal Law protest no-no-no 390 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Haredi anti-Tal Law protest no-no-no 390
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
A week away from the expiration of the Tal Law, the IDF has yet to receive instructions from the Defense Ministry regulating ultra-Orthodox military enlistment.
According to a High Court decision in February, the Tal Law will expire on August 1. While the government has been trying to draft a new bill, it has yet to present one in the plenum, making it unlikely that a new law will be passed into legislation by next Wednesday.
Due to the legislative lacuna that will be created, the ultimate decision on drafting haredi youth will fall into the hands of Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Under Israel’s 1986 Defense Service Law, all 18-year-olds are obligated to enlist in the IDF, except for those who receive exemptions from the defense minister.
“We are waiting to see if a new law is passed and if it is not then [we will wait] to receive instructions about the new draft guidelines,” explained a senior IDF officer, involved in the draft process.
Barak will have the authority to order the IDF Human Resources Department to issue draft orders to all haredim who have not yet served in the IDF and are still of eligible age. If that happens and the orders are ignored, the IDF would then have the authority to arrest the haredi draft dodgers.
Alternatively, Barak could also decide to exempt haredim from service, an unlikely move considering the political price it would entail for the defense minister.
“This is a complicated situation and the best scenario is that a new law is passed,” the officer said.
The Military Advocate-General’s Office is expecting to face a series of petitions to the High Court of Justice against the inequality starting August 1 from secular and national-religious youth who are slated to begin their service.
Sources in the Military Advocate-General’s office explained that while the petitions would likely be filed, no haredi youth are slated to be drafted on August 1, and regardless it would take time to carry out the entire enlistment process, which usually begins at least a year prior to a soldier’s scheduled induction.
Meanwhile Wednesday, the Defense Ministry announced that on Thursday it will draft around 200 youth into the Netzah Yehuda Battalion, also known as Nahal Haredi. The ministry said that it will constitute the largest draft into the unit since it was established some 12 years ago and is a 33 percent increase in draftees since the last draft.