Saturday, July 20, 2024

Gaza at risk of famine, report says: Israel-Hamas war live updates

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that the army must begin training ultra-Orthodox Jewish men, threatening to split Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government amid the war in Gaza.

In a unanimous decision, the nine-judge panel said there was no legal basis for the longstanding military exemption granted to ultra-Orthodox religious students. Without a law distinguishing between seminarians and men of other ages, the court ruled, the country’s mandatory draft laws apply to ultra-Orthodox minorities.

In a country where military service is compulsory for most Jewish Israelis, both men and women, the exemption for ultra-Orthodox sects has long fueled resentment. But anger over the group’s special treatment has grown as the war in Gaza drags on into its ninth month, requiring tens of thousands of reservists to serve multiple tours and costing hundreds of soldiers their lives.

“These days, in the midst of an uphill battle, the burden of that inequality is greater than ever — and the issue requires progress toward a sustainable solution,” the Supreme Court said in its ruling.

The decision threatened to widen one of the most painful divisions in Israeli society, pitting secular Jews against the ultra-Orthodox, who say their religious studies are as vital and safe as the military. This is Mr. It exposed the flaws in Netanyahu’s alliance, which relies on the support of two ultra-Orthodox parties, even as other Israelis are killed and wounded in Gaza.

Israeli courts have previously ruled against the exception, including Supreme Court rulings in 1998, 2012 and 2017. The Supreme Court has repeatedly warned the government that to continue this policy, it must be written into law. , as before – while giving the government time to hammer out our legislation.

But in the seven years since the last law was repealed, successive Israeli governments have dragged their feet on creating a new law. In 2023, the law finally reached its expiration date, leading the Israeli government to order the military not to draft the ultra-Orthodox while lawmakers work on an exemption.

See also  Kate and William need time and space to heal, says former royal spokesperson

On Tuesday, the court indicated that its patience had finally run out, striking down the order as illegal. It did not set a timeline for when the military would begin conscripting tens of thousands of draft-age religious students. Such a move would prove a major logistical and political challenge, as well as mass opposition from the ultra-Orthodox community.

Instead, it involved a mechanism of pressuring the ultra-Orthodox to accept the court’s decision. Social.

The judgment of the court Mr. That threatens Netanyahu’s fragile wartime coalition, which includes both secular members who oppose the exception and ultra-Orthodox parties who support it. At a time when popular support for the government is low, breaking up the group can bring down the government and call for new elections. The opposition in the Israeli parliament mostly wants to end the exemptions.

The attacks led by Hamas on October 7 – which triggered an eight-month war in Gaza – have partly loosened the ultra-Orthodox stance on the draft, with some leaders saying those who cannot read the Bible should join the army.

“However, the maximum that the ultra-Orthodox community is willing to pay is far less than what the general Israeli population is willing to accept,” said Israel Cohen, a commentator on ultra-Orthodox radio station Kol Barama.

But the ultra-Orthodox parties, with some palatable preferences, Mr. Netanyahu would not be interested in bringing down the coalition, he said. “They don’t see an alternative, so they try to make it work as best they can,” said Mr. Cohen said. “They will compromise more than they were willing to a year ago in an effort to save the government.”

See also  UConn suffered a March Madness travel loss to advance to the Final Four

For now, the Army must come up with a plan to welcome thousands of veterans who are opposed to serving in its ranks.

The court’s decision creates “a gaping political wound at the heart of the coalition,” which Mr. Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democratic Institute, a Jerusalem-based think tank, said Netanyahu must now address the issue urgently.

In a statement, Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party criticized the Supreme Court for issuing the ruling when the government planned to pass a law that would make the case obsolete. The party said the government’s proposed law would increase the number of ultra-Orthodox conscription while recognizing the importance of religious studies.

Mr. It is unclear whether Netanyahu’s proposal will ultimately come up for judicial review. But if passed by parliament, a new law could face years of court challenges and buy the government more time, Mr. Plessner said.

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Tuesday sparked outrage among ultra-Orthodox politicians. Many ultra-Orthodox view military service as a gateway to integration into a secular Israeli society, leading young people away from a lifestyle guided by the Torah, the Jewish scriptures.

“The State of Israel was established to be a home for the Jewish people, for whom the Torah is the foundation of their existence. The Holy Torah will prevail,” ultra-Orthodox government minister Yitzhak Goldknapp said in a statement on Monday.

After a Hamas-led attack on southern Israel on October 7, Israelis were united in their determination to retaliate. But as thousands of reservists were asked to serve second and third tours in Gaza, the faults in Israeli society quickly resurfaced.

See also  Japan is set to turn on water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant on August 24

Some Israeli analysts warn that the war could spread to additional fronts in the West Bank and the northern border with Lebanon, further straining the government and further straining relations between secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Already many Israelis — secular, religious and ultra-Orthodox — see the draft issue as a flashpoint in a broader culture war in the country’s increasingly uncertain future.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews have been exempt from military service since Israel’s founding in 1948, when the country’s leadership promised them autonomy in exchange for their support in creating a largely secular state. At the time, there were only a few hundred yeshiva students.

There are now more than 60,000 draft-age religious students, and the ultra-Orthodox has grown to more than a million people, about 13 percent of Israel’s population. They have gained considerable political influence and their elected leaders have become kingmakers, featuring in most Israeli coalition governments.

But as ultra-Orthodox power grew, so did anger at their failure to join the military and their relatively small contribution to the economy. In 2019, Mr. Netanyahu’s former ally Avigdor Lieberman rejected his offer to join a coalition that would pass a draft exemption law for the ultra-Orthodox. The decision helped send Israel to repeated elections – five in four years.

Last year, Mr. After Netanyahu returned to power at the head of his current coalition, he sought to legislate a plan to weaken the country’s judiciary, sparking mass protests. For the ultra-Orthodox who supported judicial reform, a key motivation was ensuring that the Supreme Court could no longer block their ability to avoid the draft.

KB Sobelman And Myra Noveck Contributed report.

Latest news
Related news