Hundreds protest at the Knesset, calling for equality in early IDF enlistment

Gavriel Fiske is a reporter at The Times of Israel

Hundreds of activists are protesting at the Knesset against what they say are imbalances in the early recruitment of some 1,300 students currently enrolled in pre-army, yeshiva, and community service programs.

Organized by the Mothers on the Front, an activist group formed last year as part of the anti-judicial overhaul movement, the protestors are calling for the early enlistment order to be reconsidered because most of the new soldiers are to be drawn from the pre-army academies and community service programs, and not from Religious Zionist yeshiva programs.

The IDF and Defense Ministry announced last week that about 850 trainees will be recruited in March from the pre-army and community service year programs, and about 450 more from yeshivas, with an emphasis on those already slated to enlist this year.

The number of yeshiva students to be enlisted early originally stood at 150, but was raised to 450 after protests from parents and program directors.

The new recruits are to be drawn from those who will go into combat units, in light of the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, the IDF has said.

The activists also contend that the early removal of the students from their programs could harm their prospects in the army and also harm the future of the programs themselves.

Dozens of students are present at the demonstration.

A Knesset committee is currently meeting in a closed session to debate the issue. Most pre-army military academies are expected to present a list of their students to be recruited in the coming days.

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