Police uncover haredi ring using mental illness to get army exemptions

The police say the suspects operated an illegal business whereby young haredi men who received draft orders paid the suspects to arrange a visit to a psychiatrist.

Haredi man and IDF soldiers in Jerusalem. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Haredi man and IDF soldiers in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
An organized draft-evasion ring has been uncovered by the police, in which fraudulent medical documents were obtained to help gain IDF service exemptions for young haredi men who had been issued with draft orders.
The investigation was opened after information was obtained from a haredi man who was arrested for disturbing the public order during a demonstration outside of the IDF enlistment offices in Jerusalem last month.
Although many young haredi men are able to obtain ongoing service deferrals until the age of military service exemption because they study full time in yeshiva, some do not qualify for these deferrals.
The law states that full-time yeshiva students study for 45 hours a week, be registered with a yeshiva that is recognized by the Defense Ministry for the purposes of the deferrals, lead a religious lifestyle, that students do not work and earn a salary and are also not abroad for an extended period.
Some ultra-Orthodox men do not meet these guidelines and are therefore not eligible for the military service deferrals, and according to the police it is such men who have sought to obtain exemptions through fraudulent means.
After the suspect was arrested and questioned, he was found to be in possession of medical documents signed by psychiatrists which it is suspected were to presented to the IDF for the purposes of gaining a military service exemption.
The investigation into the first suspect, a 25-year-old Jerusalem resident, led to a second suspect, aged 57.
A search of his apartment was conducted and bundles of cash were found hidden in cupboards, amounting to NIS 100,000, with different names written on a note in each bundle.
The police now believe that the suspects were operating an illegal business whereby young haredi men who had received draft orders paid them between NIS 500 and NIS 800 to arrange a visit to a psychiatrist.
Before the appointment with the psychiatrist, the men would be given instructions as to how to behave and would receive documents afterward testifying to the various psychological problems he was supposedly suffering from.
These documents were to be given to the IDF in order to gain the exemption.
Four psychiatrists who issued these documents have been questioned under caution by the police, but evidence has yet to be found tying them directly to the conspiracy.
The investigation is ongoing.
The police said that the investigation has uncovered an organized infrastructure to fraudulently obtain IDF service exemptions and systemically defraud dozens of young haredi men who are fit for military service.
The suspects are potentially facing charges of conspiracy to commit a crime, aggravated fraud, forgery and use of forged documents.