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IDF’s anti-beard policy no longer legally fuzzy

High Court of Justice overrules soldiers’ petition, says troops have no basic right to grow out their facial hair

Illustrative photo of bearded religious soldiers. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of bearded religious soldiers. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The High Court of Justice on Monday upheld an IDF order that kept soldiers from growing out their facial hair, saying the military’s decision to enforce a clean-shaven look among the troops was legal and reasonable.

The court overturned a petition by several soldiers filed in August, who claimed that the order was discriminatory and contravened their religious beliefs.The judges said in their decision that there’s no basic right for a soldier to go unshaven, and maintained that the IDF has a need to maintain military discipline.

The High Court of Justice froze implementation of the IDF’s restrictions on soldiers growing out facial hair, which were slated to go into effect in September, during the court proceedings. Following Monday’s ruling, the regulations were set to go into effect within several days.

Under the new military policy, permission to grow beards would only be granted to soldiers in exceptional circumstances, and would require the signed approval of certain high-ranking officers.

The IDF said it would study the petition and act in accordance with the court’s instructions.

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