Israel’s top court rules ultra-Orthodox Jews must be drafted into military

    WORLD  25 June 2024 - 18:30

    Israel's Supreme Court ruled on June 25 to compel the government to draft ultra-Orthodox Jews into the military, a decision that poses a significant challenge to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling coalition.

    The court also mandated that funding be withdrawn from religious schools, or yeshivas, whose students fail to comply with draft notices, Caliber.Az reports citing foreign media.

    "In its ruling, the court emphasized that the government's attempt to enforce differential treatment based on group affiliation undermined the rule of law and the principle of equality before the law," the ruling stated.

    Ultra-Orthodox Jews, exempt from mandatory military service since Israel's inception, dedicate their early years to religious study, viewing yeshivas as vital to Judaism's preservation and Israel's defence.

    While most Israelis support the inclusion of ultra-Orthodox men in military service, Netanyahu's coalition relies on two Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties, United Torah Judaism and Shas, which vehemently oppose ending the draft exemption. Netanyahu has sought parliamentary legislation to codify this exemption.

    The ruling comes amid ongoing conflict and political instability, exacerbated by the Defense Forces' manpower shortages. It marks a significant legal shift after 76 years of perceived inequality and discrimination, according to Eliad Shraga of the Movement for Quality Government in Israel.

    Netanyahu's Likud party insists legislative measures, not judicial rulings, are the definitive solution. Shas leader Aryeh Deri criticized the ruling, stressing the Torah's significance in Israel's defence.

    However, Knesset member Moshe Roth downplayed the practical impact, suggesting minimal immediate changes. The IDF, while now obligated to conscript Haredi men, lacks preparedness for widespread deployment due to religious requirements and the current military structure.

    "This ruling has created a challenging political landscape for the coalition, the Haredim, and Netanyahu," commented Gilad Malach of the Israel Democracy Institute, reflecting on the ruling's broader implications.

    Caliber.Az

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