Israeli High Court freezes funds for yeshiva students deferring IDF enlistment

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to Israel’s High Court of Justice issued an interim injunction Tuesday that suspended funding to yeshivot for students who are deferring enlistment in the Israel Defense Forces.

Widespread deferrals were issued beginning in August 2013 as the legislation process regarding the haredi draft continued after the Tal Law was struck down a year earlier. The law, which allowed the haredi public to defer military service, was deemed unconstitutional.

The injunction—applying to men ages 18-20 who were supposed to enlist after the Tal Law was nixed—was decided upon by nine judges under the authority of Supreme Court Justice Asher Grunis. Justice Neal Hendel was the only judge to oppose the ruling. The injuction will only affect yeshiva students who failed to show up at a recruitment office on their draft date because Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon deferred their draft date, despite the cancelation of the Tal Law.

In a statement, the haredi political party Shas said the High Court judges “have joined in the persecution of the religious community, crudely intervening in a sensitive legislative process that we will discuss in the coming days in the legislature.”

“The decision to impose economic sanctions is designed to add to the stigmatization and incitement against Torah students in Israel,” Shas said.

But Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said, “The High Court will be first to defend minority rights, including those of the haredim, but it will also be first to prevent distortion that allows for evading the law and inequality in the burden of service.”

Shahar Ilan, vice president of research and information for Hiddush - Freedom of Religion for Israel, estimated that the injunction will result in the immediate halt of funding to some 10,000 yeshiva students, adding up to about $7 million per year.

Posted on February 5, 2014 .