Ultra-Orthodox enlistment in the Israel Defense Forces is up 39 percent this year, a marked increase from previous years, but still below quotas enshrined in the 2013 “equal-burden” law, which mandated ultra-Orthodox participation in the army or national service, government officials said Monday.
The 2013-2014 conscription cycle saw 1,972 ultra-Orthodox youth enlist in the IDF, up from 1,416 in 2012-2013 and from 1,327 in 2011-2012, according to the committee tasked with monitoring the implementation of the law.
Of the almost 2,000 new recruits, 863 opted for combat roles, and 801 enlisted in the national service track.
In addition, some 11,000 pre-army aged ultra-Orthodox youths have registered at specially created induction centers to be assessed for their service, in a process similar to those that high school students in general society go through. Induction is not automatic — like any Israeli, an ultra-Orthodox recruit can be rejected due to physical or mental conditions, as well as extenuating circumstances.
Despite the impressive gain in recruitment, the numbers fell well below projections stipulated in the new law, which mandated that, during 2013-2014, 3,800 ultra-Orthodox be recruited; in 2014-2015, 4,500 be drafted; and 5,200 to sign up in subsequent years.
Science Minister Yaakov Peri, who heads the committee, said that despite falling short of initial goals, the results prove that a “legal and social revolution” is underway in Israel due to the passage of the law. He added that, despite the predictions, the initial implementation of the project has been managed successfully.
The law, which also mandates legal ramifications for individuals and yeshivas that do not comply with enlistment, has been protested heavily by the ultra-Orthodox community.