Showdown looms as IDF plans Charedi call-up

A first showdown between the IDF and the Charedi community is expected next week as the army plans to summon thousands of 17-year-olds for the first round of interviews before their induction into military service.

In the past, yeshivah students had their army call-up automatically deferred indefinitely, but following a Supreme Court ruling that the deferment system was unconstitutional and the failure of attempts to draft a new law, Charedi youths will get the same treatment as other Israeli youngsters.

The IDF Personnel Directorate is still undecided on how to deal with an influx of young, strictly-Orthodox men into its ranks.

It is unclear how the new conscripts will act, what orders their rabbis will issue and whether the government will succeed in cobbling together a new national service law in the near future.

For now, the army is planning to expand its current vocational training programmes for strictly-Orthodox men. It is also considering enlarging to brigade-size the Nezach Yehuda infantry battalion, in which relgious soldiers serve in a segregated environment, and perhaps add new Charedim-only units.

While senior IDF officers have privately complained of having to deal with a situation created by the politicians — the army is pushing for a wider national service plan that will absorb most of the Charedi men into non-military frameworks — it is unclear how the young men themselves will act. Around 7,500 will be summoned in the first phase.

Some Charedi rabbis have called on their followers to disobey the call-up orders and not to turn up for their scheduled interviews at the induction centres. The Council of Torah Sages has instructed yeshivah students to comply with the orders but to refuse to sign any document indicating their willingness to serve in the army.

Last updated: 3:33pm, August 30 2012