An organization for mothers of soldiers called for the drafting of yeshiva students in a High Court of Justice petition filed on Tuesday morning, adding another submission to the push for haredi conscription following the expiry of the draft law.
The 240 appellants, mothers of current, former, or future soldiers, called for the ultra-Orthodox to begin to undergo fitness testing and drafting. The petitioners are part of the group Mothers on the Front, which claims to represent 20,000 mothers seeking conscription equality.
The petition argued that the current situation in which some segments of the population were being drafted and others not created inequality and discrimination, with two peoples subject to different rules. The scenario consequently engenders polarization in society.
Should haredim draft into the army?
The haredi population is a growing percentage of the Israeli population, and the institution of universal conscription is endangered if large swathes of Israeli citizens are exempt, the petitioners contended. Israel may not be able to field enough soldiers if the conscription mechanism falls into disrepair.
"We have before us the essence of the constitutional crisis in its entirety," said Dafna Holtz Lachner, an attorney representing the organization. "A provision of the law that explicitly states to recruit everyone, without discrimination between blood and blood, and a government that makes an illegal decision, to explicitly violate the provision of the law that obligates it and instructs the army not to act according to the law and not to implement the procedures for the recruitment of yeshiva students."
The previous 2014 draft law was struck down by the High Court in 2017, but had been granted repeated extensions for six years before it finally expired on June 30. On June 25 the cabinet directed the IDF not to enlist yeshiva students until next March, while in the meantime the government prepared a new haredi draft law.
The mothers argued in the petition that they had special insight into the unequal burden placed on their children, the anxiety that plagued them while they were in service, and the danger that they were exposed to.
"The Mothers at the Front movement will act with every legal means at its disposal and in all arenas at once with determination, until achieving 'full' civil equality," said NGO founder Ayelet Hashachar Seydoff.
The NGO asked for their petition to be consolidated with the Brothers in Arms protest movement petition, which was filed to achieve similar purposes on August 16.
Once the Knesset recess ends in October, the government is expected to submit a new draft bill to begin its legislative journey.