IDF Proposal Would Lower Age of Army Exemption for Chareidim to 24


idfThe Israel Defense Forces recently proposed a new model for the implementation of the Tal Law, which the army says will allow it to conscript several thousand more chareidim into its ranks annually. This represents a counterproposal to that of the Finance Ministry, which would like to lower the age at which Chareidim are exempt from military service to 24, so that they could be incorporated sooner into the workforce.

The army is willing to see the age limit drop to 27, and in parallel proposes increasing the number of chareidim conscripted by including younger men who pass Labor Ministry courses prior to conscription and older Chareidim who will serve a shortened term and be incorporated into the “emergency reserves” that the IDF would be able to tap if the need arises.

In line with a High Court of Justice ruling, the state must formulate a new policy with relation to the Tal Law by the end of this year.

In September 2009 the High Court ruled that the state had 15 months to implement the Tal Law on the conscription of Chareidim. The justices were critical that the state is not implementing the law and not making use of the alternative of national service which is part of the law.

The ruling followed a petition by a number of groups who challenged a Knesset decision from June 2007 that extended the validity of the Tal Law for another five years.

On May 16, Prime Minister Netanyahu held a discussion on what the position of the state should be on the matter. Participating in the meeting were representatives of the Finance Ministry, Defense Ministry and the IDF. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz proposed altering the law’s conditions and granting exemptions from conscription to parents of two or more children. Steinitz also proposed exempting anyone reaching age 24-25 who had not been conscripted by then.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi opposed lowering the age limit, and argued that it should not be lowered below 27 because this would discriminate against those who do serve. Barak and Ashkenazi noted that many of the young men and women who study before they are conscripted only begin their service at age 25.

Currently it possible for Chareidim aged 35 to be completely exempt from conscription, while parents of five or six children are exempt sooner.

Ashkenazi and the head of the IDF’s personnel directorate, Maj. Gen. Avi Zamir, put forth the IDF proposal.

-The army proposes that the state also begin dealing with Chareidim aged 16-18 who are not studying in yeshivas. Some of these youths would be trained in Labor Ministry programs and then be conscripted into logistical or technical roles. The army is capable of absorbing into its ranks 100-150 such youths annually, before they are eligible for exemption due to their yeshiva studies – a process that normally ends with no conscription at all. In a decade, the army estimates, it will be possible to conscript through this program 600-700 Chareidi youth annually.

-Continuing the conscription into Nachal Chareidi for 18-21 year olds. Currently some 500 Chareidim are conscripted annually, which includes regular service in a combat unit. A reserve battalion has recently been established, comprising soldiers who served in the regular unit.

– Expanding the Shahar program in which Chareidim serve in technical units of the Air Force and Military Intelligence. The usual age of conscription is 22-24, and the period of service ranges from 17 to 19 months. Because most conscripts are fathers, they receive salaries of NIS 3,500 per month. Some 400 ultra-Orthodox serve in the unit. The army believes it is possible to significantly increase the number of conscripts into this program, and include a day per week of professional training and job interviews, in order to facilitate their absorption into the civilian economy.

-Opening another program for Chareidim aged 24-27 who will be conscripted for a three-month period and undergo non-combat training. Some will then be called up for regular reserve duty. Others will be part of the “emergency reserves.”

{Haaretz/Yair Israel}


  1. The zionist army with its rampant immorality within its ranks has the ability, C”V, to remove any vestiges of Yiddishkeit from even the biggest Yarei Shamayim who G-d fobids falls into their evil hands.