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Thursday, June 13, 2013

IDF to reconsider uniform exemption for haredi soldiers

Hundreds of haredi soldiers and a high-ranking officer in their unit held their first meeting in the wake of violence directed by the haredi sectors against them, which have seen a marked rise following the new draft legislation.

The chief intelligence officer announced that the IDF is considering the haredi soldiers' request to exempt them from wearing uniform while taking public transportation, where they have been the target of violence.

The officer, Brig. Gen. Eli Ben-Aryeh, assured the Glilot-based soldiers they have the full support of the Military Intelligence Directorate (MID) in particular, and of the IDF in general, and that their request will be viewed in light of the attempt to minimize friction with extremist elements in their neighborhoods.

It was also reported that haredi soldiers have been referred to special officers, available 24 hours a day, to provide assistance if necessary.

"Despite the latest incidents, we're under the impression that motivation among haredi soldiers is growing," a high-ranking Military Intelligence Directorate (MID) officer told Ynet.

"A decisive majority is proud to wear the IDF uniform, and we're happy with the increase in the number of recruits to the directorate."

Over the last year, MID has accepted a large number of haredi recruits, and currently some 500 haredi soldiers, among them 100 officers, serve in its ranks.

According to the high-ranking officer, most of these serve in the 8200 unit in various technical roles.

"These soldiers are eager to serve, have voiced their wish to continue and integrate, show everyone what they contribute," he said. "But a man in uniform who is treated with hostility by his surroundings – that's completely unacceptable to us. Fortunately, we haven't heard of any haredi soldier who wished to terminate his service due to these incidents, just the opposite."

In two weeks an IDF Manpower Directorate committee will convene to discuss soldiers' petitions to ride public transport in civilian clothing. When the committee last met it rebuffed most of the petitions, which drew the ire of some soldiers.

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