This week, a Chabad bochur who was drafted into the IDF and compelled to serve in unsuitable conditions was sent to a military prison despite assurances by the army that chareidim will not be forced to compromise on their lifestyle.
Or Gilboa, a student of the Chabad Yeshiva Chazon Eliyahu in Tel Aviv, received his “tzav rishon” (preliminary call-up) papers at age 16.5 and began the draft process. At this time, Or was also beginning to become religiously observant and he joined the Chabad community. Six months before he was due to be drafted, he asked for an exemption from military service because he had become a yeshiva student. Yet despite his entreaties and explanations that he was now studying in yeshiva and wished to defer his military service, his request was refused.
Several months ago, Or was forcibly drafted and the army promised him that he would serve in a chareidi brigade. However, after training with a group of older chareidi soldiers, he was sent to a regular, mixed camp with no other chareidim at all.
Despite his requests, the army wouldn’t provide him with mehadrin food either, and he could only eat fruit and vegetables, eventually losing about 15 kilos in weight. This week, Or was transferred to a store management course, where the conditions were even worse for a chareidi yeshiva student.
When Or told his commanding officer that the army had promised to send him to surroundings more appropriate for a yeshiva student and asked why he was transferred to such a course, Or was sent to a military prison.
In response to the report on this carried in the Mevaser chareidi newspaper, an IDF spokesman reported: “During his time in the brigade, the soldier received all of the conditions granted to soldiers of the Netzach Yehuda [chareidi] brigade. Last week, the soldier was sent to a stock management course outside the base. The soldier was told in advance that the course was not of a chareidi nature, and there were also girls on the course. The soldier didn’t express any opposition. When he arrived at the course, the soldier expressed opposition to joining, and for this reason the commander of the Netzach brigade ordered seven days in military prison for refusing orders.”
The rabbis involved in this incident, along with Or’s parents, claim that this is not exactly the case. Right from the beginning, Or didn’t receive Netzach Yehuda conditions and was not posted anywhere suitable for receiving those conditions. He never received mehadrin food, and it was never offered.
Although members of the Rabbinate at the army base tried to get him some basic mehadrin food products, they weren’t successful and his father somehow managed to get him some food. And contrary to the IDF’s spokesman’s statement, even before the course, Or was not in a suitable place and continually complained that he was compelled to stay in the base’s shul the entire day.