Shas minister slams Bennett over Haredi enlistment comments

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"

Interior Minister Moshe Arbel attends a Knesset committee meeting, Jerusalem, April 1, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Interior Minister Moshe Arbel attends a Knesset committee meeting, Jerusalem, April 1, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Interior Minister Moshe Arbel of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party slams Naftali Bennett after he insists that the war means the long-standing Haredi exemption from the army must end.

“Bennett! No one is allowed to make a political campaign on the blood of the IDF’s martyrs,” Arbel says after the former prime minister posted on X about the deaths of eight IDF servicemen on Saturday morning.

In his statement, Bennett expresses his pain at the incident, in which a Namer armored combat engineering vehicle was hit by an explosive, possibly a planted bomb.

“A cruel and active enemy is attacking us from the north, east and south, and the State of Israel finds itself in a difficult time and needs soldiers,” Bennett says, adding that “there is no more room for a blanket exemption for an entire population. We need everyone together in the war against the enemy.”

In response, Arbel says that he and other Shas lawmakers have “close family members who are currently serving in significant combat positions in the south and north, passing sleepless nights for the security of the country.”

“Don’t dance on the blood. Politics is not everything,” he insists.

The cabinet is set to discuss extending an emergency measure delaying retirement for IDF reservists on Sunday, less than a week after the coalition voted to apply “continuity” to a bill from the previous government lowering the current age of exemption from mandatory service for Haredi yeshiva students.

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