IDF discharges thousands of haredim
After approving draft reform, government sends exemption letters to yeshiva students over age of 28 or with at least three children. 'This is a spit in the face of those carrying the burden,' says Rabbi Uri Regev of Hiddush association
Kobi Nahshoni • Ynet
Thousands of yeshiva students in recent weeks have received letters informing them that they have been exempt from military service.
The letters were sent following the ultra-Orthodox draft reform approved by the government earlier this year. A military official confirmed the details to Ynet.
The newly discharged men are yeshiva students over the age of 28, or younger yeshiva students who have at least three children.
Simultaneously, the government informed haredim over the age of 28 engaged in civilian service that they may end their service. Their names were transferred to the list of reserve soldiers.
Until the reform, most yeshiva students were in the status of "delayed service" under the "Torah is their profession" policy, and were expected to be discharged only at a later age and after meeting strict conditions related to their marital status and number of children.
The exemptions were given after a team headed by Prime Minister's Office Director-General Eyal Gabai suggested setting a target of about 5,000 people for haredi men's service for 2015.
According to Gabai's plan, yeshiva students aged 22 and up, married or single, would be exempt from military service if they engaged in civilian service for one year, men aged 26 would be allowed to serve for a shortened three-month period, and men aged 28 would be exempt from any military service.
The Hiddush association for freedom of religion said in response that the draft reform had been implemented although a petition against the Tal Law (which exempts yeshiva students from the army) was still waiting for a High Court ruling.
Until recently, and following the petitions, the government delayed the implementation of the exemption several times, but after the High Court failed to issue an interim order against its implementation – the plan was executed.
"The government has launched a mass campaign granting an exemption to yeshiva students and cancelling the people's army like a thief in the night, without even telling the public," said Hiddush Director Rabbi Uri Regev.
"It tried to do the same in the summer, when it first passed the reform. The implementation of the exemption began without notifying those who petitioned the High Court against the Tal Law, and probably without notifying the court either.
"The government has realized that its attempt to market the 'exemption reform' as a campaign boosting haredi enlistment has failed. The public carrying the burden, serving in the army and sacrificing its life to defend the State, understands that the government is spitting in its face."
Hanan Greenberg contributed to this report.
[Hat Tip: CS.]