Some 3,000 ultra-Orthodox Israelis have received call-up orders to the IDF and will be enlisted for active service by August 2013, the army announced on Thursday.
The young men who were slated to join the military had until recently deferred their service due to their religious beliefs, Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai, the head of manpower in the IDF, told Israel Radio.
2013 will be the first year in which the number of ultra-Orthodox draftees will be in the thousands, she said.
Barbivai also expressed concern regarding the inordinate number of Ethiopian soldiers currently serving out sentences in military prisons. She said that approximately 20% of inmates came from families of Ethiopian immigrants — far more than their representation in the army – despite the fact that members of the community are highly motivated when they first enlist in the IDF.
In February, the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional the Tal Law, which granted sweeping exemptions from military or national service to ultra-Orthodox Israelis.
Following the ruling, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the Knesset would draft a revised, more equitable law within months.
In July, Netanyahu disbanded a committee headed by Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner to draft a resolution to the issue, after some right-wing legislators resigned from the panel, citing its failure to institute a universal draft for Arab citizens as well as ultra-Orthodox.
After Plesner publicized his committee’s recommendations, Netanyahu teamed him up with Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon to hammer out a bill that would incorporate all of the committee’s principles while also taking into account the objections of those who had left the committee. That attempt also failed to produce results, prompting the Kadima party to bolt the coalition.
In early December, the Cabinet approved a plan to draft some 1,300 ultra-Orthodox men into the national service corps, where, according to the Government Press Office, some 2,000 religious men currently serve.