Data obtained from the Knesset Research and Information Center by Israel’s Ynet news organization revealed that 7,250 ultra-Orthodox soldiers have enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces since August 2017, keeping with a steady rise in the number of haredi draft-age men choosing to become part of Israel’s military force.
The report was commissioned by Yesh Atid chairman MK Ofer Shelah, who attempted to show that the army invests disproportionate amounts of funding in trying to obtain and support haredi soldiers — funding that could be used for other army populations or in upgrading army resources and training.
In 2014, some 42,004 men received service exemptions and deferments. In 2017, that number dropped to 30,286.
The report indicates that the number of haredi recruits has increased by 50 percent in recent years, with half of those serving in combat units.
The data also showed that approximately one out of every three of these recruits identifies as a “lone soldier” — an IDF soldier who has no family support and requires monthly stipends.
Lone soldiers are also eligible for special grants, vouchers, reduced utility bills and other support given that no one is providing for them or providing them with food and shelter when they are released from base.
“The IDF attaches great importance to the recruitment and integration of soldiers from the ultra-Orthodox community, and therefore, there are several special military-service tracks for these soldiers,” said IDF Spokesperson’s Office. “Regardless of the track chosen, any soldier facing financial hardships is entitled to benefits such as family stipends, housing benefits and more.”
Officials have also attempted to draft haredim into non-military national civic service, but the program has not drawn significant numbers.