ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 143

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Gantz urges integrating Haredim, amid fury over IDF plans to lengthen troops’ service

Sam Sokol is the Times of Israel's political correspondent. He was previously a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Haaretz. He is the author of "Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews"

A ceremony commemorating fallen ultra-Orthodox soldiers at Heichal Shlomo in Jerusalem on April 24, 2023. (Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90)
A ceremony commemorating fallen ultra-Orthodox soldiers at Heichal Shlomo in Jerusalem on April 24, 2023. (Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90)

An IDF plan to increase the amount of time conscripts and reservists serve in the military as it faces a long war in the Gaza Strip generates a fierce backlash among coalition lawmakers, with many complaining that the increased burden will fall on the general public while members of the ultra-Orthodox community remain largely exempt from conscription.

The proposed changes to the security service and reserve service laws, which will need to be approved by lawmakers, include lengthening male mandatory army service to three years, as it had been until 2015, and extending the terms of female soldiers in combat and other special roles to three years as well.

The IDF also plans to raise the age for retirement from reserve duty to 45 for regular reservists, 50 for officers and 52 for those serving in special roles. The amount of time required by reservists to serve per year would also change under the plans.

While far-right lawmakers were quick to defend the ultra-Orthodox camp, National Unity chair Benny Gantz indicates that he backs expanding Haredi citizens’ service.

“On October 7, many Israelis stood up and volunteered without asking questions. Among them were ultra-Orthodox Jews who sought to enlist in the IDF,” he says, calling for “an Israeli service law, which will gradually include ultra-Orthodox and Arab citizens.”

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