Photo Credit: GPO / YouTube screengrab
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant called Wednesday night for the enlistment of haredi-religious Israelis in the nation’s military, and expressed his support for extension of the service period for soldiers in the standing army as well as for the reservists.

Speaking at a briefing with Israeli reporters, Gallant referred to the heavy cost of the battles that are currently taking place on the multiple fronts faced by the IDF.

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“The prices are heavy in body and soul,” he said. “To meet the goals of the war, to meet the threats from Gaza, from Lebanon, from Judea and Samaria; and to prepare for the emerging threats from the east, we need unity and partnership in decisions about our future.

“There is a real, national need to extend the service of standing forces and to extend the duration of the service period of the reservists.

“There is no choice; we have to protect the homeland,” he said.

“This war has proved that everyone must get under the stretcher. Jointly bearing the burden of service has been a national challenge for 75 years. We haven’t known the like of this challenge that has arrived upon our doorstep, however, for 75 years — so we must make agreements and decisions that we haven’t made in 75 years.”

Gallant called on his fellow coalition members, “all the members of the Knesset” and the “entire public” to unite in dealing with the increasing challenge on the war fronts.

“The State of Israel is the state of the Jewish People,” he said. “The Torah protected the People of Israel throughout 2,000 years of exile. We cherish and appreciate those who dedicate their lives to the study of the Torah. However: without physical existence there is no spiritual existence. The security challenges facing us prove everyone must bear the burden — all sectors of the population.”

Gallant said that in recent weeks he has discussed the issue with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “the chairman of the state camp” (Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz, a former defense minister), key figures in the coalition and the heads of the haredi religious parties.

“What I told them [was this]: It is possible and important to reach an agreed outline for military recruitment also of a growing part of the haredi public who are already contributing to the civilian effort,” he said. “I call on the Prime Minister to lead a joint move with all factions of the coalition to reach the necessary agreements on the subject of the conscription law. I hope that also parts of the opposition will join the outline that will be drawn up.

“Any recruitment law that will be agreed upon by all parties of the emergency government will be acceptable to me,” Gallant emphasized. “But without the consent of all parties of the coalition the security system headed by me will not submit the law.

“Jointly bearing the burden is essential to winning the war. This is not a partisan issue. This is not a sector matter. It is a national, top security matter. We must take the example and draw strength from the fighters [on the front lines],” he said.

“This is a time for unity; this is a time for partnership. We must — all of us — protect the homeland. Only in this way, together, will we achieve victory and preserve the strength and unity of the State of Israel.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.