The real reason enlistment of Haredim into the IDF has not grown significantly lies in budget restrictions. This fact arose in the meeting by a subcommittee of the a Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chaired by Knesset Member Yochanan Plasner which discussed Haredi enlistment data and types of service especially intended for the Tal Law population. ”Just as the director of national service received a blank check and instructions to accept anyone who wants to serve, I see no reason why the same should not take place in the IDF,” said Dr. Reuven Gal, from the Shmuel Ne`eman Institution.
In the discussion, the difficulty of receiving accurate information on potential enlistment cycles of young Haredim was raised. According to data from the Ministry of Education which funds the yeshivas, in the last cycle 504 seventeen-to-eighteen year olds studied in “higher” yeshiva. In the ”lower yeshiva” (equivalent to high school), in 2009 8,605 seventeen and eighteen year olds studied. In 2010, there were 8,836, in 2011, 9,138 and in 2012, only 6,054. No one can explain how the yeshiva student`s numbers dropped by a third. There is also no data on how many students learn in yeshivas on a tourist visa, and have no obligation to serve.
”We wanted to know how many Haredim there were,” said MK Uri Orbach, ”What else did we ask to know?”
”I`m disappointed by the laundry heap of data,” said MK Zevulun Orlev. ”We need to ask the Knesset`s Research and Information Center to present the Committee with statistics.”
”Is it within the IDF`s induction capacity to widen the streams meant for Haredim, assuming there are budgetary restrictions?” Chairman Yochanan Plasner asked the Committee. Brigadier General Gadi Agmon, Head of the Army`s Planning and Personnel Division: ”If I received budgetary compensation, we could enlist tens more. We saw this was possible by 2011. But until now the dialogue did not include budgetary restrictions.” Chairman Plasner: ”From tours and meetings which I attended, I received the impression that there is a large potential for widening Haredi induction in the Shahar project.” Brig. Gen. Agmon: The more distinct and separate programs set up, the greater the scope of induction. The potential in `Shahar` is greater than that in `Netzach Yehuda`”.
In 2015, the government plans to induct 600 men to the Netzach Yehuda Brigade, 900 men to the Shahar Project, and 1,000 to “shlav bet” (service for older inductees), in which they will serve only three months and will be posted in reserve duty in HFC and logistics. The IDF prefers to enlist 1,500 to the Shahar project and only 300 to “shlav bet.” Today, 480 soldiers serve in the Netzach Yehuda combat brigade; their numbers will only grow by about 120 soldiers.
Today, over 900 Yeshivas are recognized as institutions whose students can describe themselves as ”Torato Emunato” [i.e. exempt from service due to religious beliefs.] ”Permission for the recognized Yeshivas is a dynamic process,” Agmon said, ”which must be approved by the Ministry of Defense.”
”Does the IDF have a position on service in the framework of Hesder Yeshivas, and the length of service?” Chairman Plasner wanted to know. ”The position of the Ministry of Defense is to examine the significance of service to all” replied Agmon, ”We will weigh all streams of service and their lengths. At the moment we have no crystallized position.”