Photo Credit: Netzah Yehuda Association
Haredi youths at the IDF absorption center in Tel HaShomer, May 9, 2024.

According to a Knesset report based on data provided by the IDF Personnel Directorate, more than three-quarters of the 4,000 Haredim who showed up ready to enlist since October 7, 2023, were rejected.

It is highly unlikely that the IDF Personnel Directorate would have revealed these figures freely, but they were forced to offer the real numbers by MK Eli Dallal (Likud). Following MK Dallal’s request, the Knesset Research and Information Center issued a report on April 4, titled, “18-year-olds’ Conscription and Conscription Rates by Population Groups,” with the keywords “Bedouin, Druze, Haredim, and Israeli Arabs.”


Section 3.3 of the report, “The number of Haredim who enlisted after October 7, 2023,” states:

According to the IDF Personnel Directorate, of the 4,000 Haredi applicants since October 7, 2023, the army rejected no less than 3,120 for a wide variety of reasons, the main one being “medical unfitness.” Even out of the 880 who were found to be eligible, only 540 were recruited.

The report continues: “Meanwhile, some 66,000 Haredi youths were granted deferment of service because of the ‘their Torah study is their vocation’ stipulation.”

These figures are surprising, if not outright alarming, especially since the IDF is on the record as saying the continued war has created a need for 7,000 additional soldiers and commanders, alongside the need for additional personnel in a wide variety of positions. Even assuming that the three-quarters of Haredi youths were indeed unfit for combat – they could still be integrated into a variety of other roles in the military that do not require a combat-level physical profile.

The report brings to mind a study that was issued in April this year by the Israel Democracy Institute, showing that a quarter of the estimated 70,000 Haredi young men want to enlist in the IDF when in practice only 10% of them do so. It appears that while the IDF is investing great resources in attracting other segments of the Israeli population to enlist, the Haredim – who are very useful in attacks by secular politicians about “sharing the burden” – are not desired by the military.

So far, even as the political process, spurred by the Supreme Court, appears to be producing Haredi conscription legislation that the Haredi coalition members would approve, the Israeli government is yet to provide the financial resources necessary to accommodate the needs of thousands of Haredi soldiers.

And so, for the moment, it’s cheaper to send them home.

Update: Discussions on social media are claiming that the Knesset report’s language is inaccurate and incomplete, and the Haredi applicants who were rejected were not 18-year-old conscripts, but rather Haredi applicants ages 26 and up who were applying for shortened service (Shlav Bet) and then to join the reserves after 2 weeks of training.

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