In the absence of a replacement for the Tal Law which exempted ultra-Orthodox men from mandatory military service and officially expired on Aug. 1, the Israel Defense Forces is considering several options for haredi men of draft age. According to one plan, a third of haredi men drafted in each induction cycle will serve in technological positions in the IDF, such as in the intelligence and air force branches; a third will be assigned to other IDF units; and a third will be integrated into police and civilian service programs.
The Knesset ratified the Tal Law in 2002 in an effort to encourage ultra-Orthodox men to enlist in the IDF or for national service, while exempting those who choose to study Torah full-time. At the time, it was established to address the imbalance in sharing the burden of army service in Israel.
The High Court of Justice ruled in February however that the law, in fact, perpetuated inequality and abolished the law in a majority ruling of six to three. The panel of judges, headed by former Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch, ruled that the law is unconstitutional and could not be extended in its current form.
One alternative under consideration by the IDF, which would require both IDF and government approval, calls for the establishment of three battalions for haredi men in addition to the Netzah Yehuda (Nahal Haredi) infantry battalion of the Kfir Brigade that has been operating since 1999. In addition, a haredi battalion would be set up in the Homefront Command and several special platoons would be set up for haredim near their homes.
Another aspect of the plan being considered is to enable any yeshiva student past the age of 21 who hasn't served in the IDF to join the workforce without being harassed by the authorities. The government, however, will end its support for those who choose this program, since they will be able to support themselves.
After the Tal Law expired, Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the IDF to reinstate the latest version of the Defense Service Law from 1968, and to submit within one month a practical proposal regarding the implementation of the law in the ultra-Orthodox community. This, he said, would serve as a temporary solution until the Knesset legislates a new law that permanently regulates the ultra-Orthodox draft.
Barak assigned a team, headed by IDF Personnel Directorate Commander Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai, to formulate a plan to draft ultra-Orthodox men, and until such a plan is approved haredi men are being called to induction centers to register for military service.
At the centers, the induction process is explained to haredi men and various service options are described in detail.
To date, very few haredi men who received invitations to induction centers have showed up to register.