Photo Credit: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90
Haredi recruits arrive at the IDF Absorption Center at Tel Hashomer, March 28, 2024.

Nine justices sitting as the High Court of Justice on Tuesday unanimously embraced a long list of petitions for the recruitment of Haredim to the IDF and the cessation of support payments to a yeshiva whose students were not exempted from service.

The nine judges criticized the state’s conduct in this matter since 1998 and determined that it was against the law. “In the midst of a difficult war, the burden of inequality is more acute than ever and requires a solution,” the nine justices wrote.


The unanimous decision of the nine judges includes five conservative-leaning Justices (based on their rulings in recent years): Noam Solberg, Yael Wilner, Ofer Grosskopf, Gila Canfy-Steinitz, and Alex Stein.

The ruling offered a brief history of Haredi service over the past 26 years:

“The first decision that is important for our case is the ruling given in the Rubinstein case in 1998,” the court noted. “In that matter, it was determined, in essence, that given the growing scope of yeshiva students who were exempted from conscription, and since this is a ‘poignant national question,’ the issue requires a decision through the establishment of a preliminary settlement, that is, the matter should be remedied via primary legislation.
“Accordingly, it was determined that the authority of the defense minister cannot be exercised in granting sweeping exemptions from military service to candidates for recruitment. The order given in the judgment in the Rubinstein case has been suspended several times, to give the Knesset a stay to discuss the appropriate legislative arrangement. In this context, a report was also submitted, based on which a law was enacted on the postponement of service to yeshiva students whose Torah is their craft, a.k.a. the 2002 ‘Tel Law.’ The law authorized the defense minister to grant a yeshiva student suspended service for a year, to be granted an additional year each time, provided that the student met the conditions detailed in this law.
“The constitutionality of the Tal Law was discussed by the High Court. The court found that the law violates the constitutional right to equality and that the law did not lead to the promotion of the purpose of the participation of Haredi men in the military service or even in the civil service.”

Referring to the petitions, the judges ruled that “at this time, there is no legal framework that makes it possible to distinguish between yeshiva students who are designated for military service. Accordingly, the state does not have the authority to order a blanket avoidance of their recruitment, and it must act by the provisions of the Security Service Law.”

New recruits arrive at the Nahal Haredi absorption center in Jerusalem, August 9, 2012. / Noam Moskowitz/Flash90

It was further determined that in the absence of a legal framework, it is not possible to continue to transfer support funds to yeshivas and kollels for students who did not receive an exemption or whose military service was not postponed.

The practical outcome of Tuesday’s ruling is that the IDF enlistments revert to the original, general Defense Service Law, and every Yeshiva student who reaches the proper age must appear at an absorption center near his home to be processed.

However, the welfare and education ministries are expected to come up with a way to ease the sudden cut in support for yeshiva and Kollel students who rely on these fairly meager subsidies for their and their families’ livelihood.

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