The IDF has been taking steps to accommodate the anticipated growth in incoming Haredi recruits following the future draft law, currently in committee. The committee, chaired by Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked, is in broad agreement on the principle of “equal burden,” requiring Haredi young men and women to contribute to the state in which they live. There is, however, serious dispute between the two coalition factions most invested in the new legislation over the issue of enforcement.
Jewish Home favors economic sanctions against Haredim who fail to enlist, while Yesh Atid mistrusts the effectiveness of such measures, insisting instead on criminal charges.
Another Yesh Atid argument is that economic sanctions directed only at one part of the population would constitute a violation of their civil rights and could be shot down by the High Court.
Even if the current legislation passes all its hurdles, it is believed that the Haredi draft will not begin in earnest before 2017, when the first full batch of Haredi recruits will be required legally to enlist.
Nevertheless, the IDF is not waiting for 2017, and has already moved to accommodate the new arrivals. According to Haaretz, the army is planning to add a second Haredi infantry battalion in 2014, and a third battalion, designated to serve in the Home Front Command, in 2015.
Some 2,000 Haredim enlisted in 2013, and the army is expecting to enlist 2,300 in 2014 and 2,600 the following year. These figures match the original ones as proposed by the Perry Committee at an earlier legislative phase. They may be adjusted later, according to the ratified version of the law.
In addition to assignments within the infantry and in civilian rescue function, the IDF is also preparing for a wave of older Haredi recruits, mostly married men ages 22-23. They are expected to be integrated into technological and logistical units.
Generally, the IDF prefers its recruits younger, before they get married and have their first few children. Older Haredi recruits will be earning the equivalent salary of entry level professional servicemen, close to $18,000 a year.
The IDF is planning to create a separate recruitment center for Haredim, without female soldiers, as well as a Haredi boot camp, also without women.
That part could also meet legal challenges by various interested parties.
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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