The Israeli Defense Forces experienced its largest influx of haredi Jews today, when 100 ultra Orthodox draftees lined up to enlist.
The unprecedented numbers came after a July 31 expiration of the Tal Law, which previously exempted religious students from mandatory IDF service. Earlier this year, the Israeli high court declared new legislation should be adopted, imposing the deadline.
The timetable came and went, however, without an agreed upon replacement law going into effect. The issue of military service for the haredi community is a matter of contention within Israel and the Knesset, and was a major factor in the collapse of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s famed 92-seat coalition.
As the expiration date passed, Defense Minister Ehud Barak put into motion paperwork to begin drafting young religious students from yeshiva. Many believed a new law—now expected for completion by the end of the month—would be written before any Orthodox students were actually sent into the military.
That didn’t prove to be the case. Since the July 31 deadline, an estimated 200 haredi soldiers have enlisted, about half of which took place today. The drafting has reportedly occurred without major protest from the community, which many analysts were predicting.
Ultra Orthodox Jews serving in the IDF are typically part of a unit called the Nahal Haredi. Through the troupe, soldiers are able to observe their faith as conveniently as possible. An estimated 4,000 haredi soldiers serve in the squad.
"The unit represents an unprecedented success in recruiting members of the ultra-Orthodox community to the military and integrating them into the process of contributing to the state," the director of the Nahal Haredi support organization said Thursday.