Israel's supreme court orders army to start drafting ultra-orthodox men

Israel's Supreme Court today struck down the exemption to military service provided to ultra-orthodox men there. The country needs more meat for its grinder in Gaza (and perhaps soon in Lebanon) and some 60,000 fighting-fit Haredim are sat idle "studying." The ruling is another problem for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, because his government's razor-thin majority depends on the far-right extremists they vote for.

These exemptions have long been a source of anger among the secular public, a divide that has widened during the eight-month-old war, as the military has called up tens of thousands of soldiers and says it needs all the manpower it can get. Over 600 soldiers have been killed since Hamas' Oct. 7 attack.

Politically powerful ultra-Orthodox parties, key partners in Netanyahu's governing coalition, oppose any change to the current system. If the exemptions are ended, they could bolt the coalition, causing the government to collapse and likely leading to new elections at a time when its popularity has dropped.

The court also confirmed the end of state subsidies for these men, considered parasites by many secular Israelis, including government ministers—though they say so at very real risk.