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2 august 2012 Last updated at 10:31 GMT  

Law sparing ultra-Orthodox Jews from draft expires

An Israeli law that had allowed most of the country's ultra-Orthodox Jews to avoid mandatory military service has expired after the government failed to agree a viable alternative.

Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jews had been granted exemptions from the military to pursue religious studies, but mainstream Israelis have, in recent times, stepped up protests demanding that the government change the policy.

In the ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighbourhood of Me'a Shearim the news was greeted with dismay and derision.

Ultra Orthodox neighborhood resident: 

"We believe in Hashem, God. So we believe, believing has two parts. You need to fight psychically and you need to fight spiritually so the spiritual part is done by Yeshivas and the physical part is done by the army."

However in Tel Aviv, most residents say all ultra-Orthodox men should be recruited in order to take upon themselves the burden of society Micky Gitzin, the director of Be Free Israel, a movement that advocates religious pluralism, says the expiration of the old law is "only a first step".

Director of Be Free Israel Micky Gitzin:

"There is only one way to change the situation. That every and each of our citizens of this country will be forced to go and do what I was forced to do, to join the army and take upon himself the burden of this society”

Defence Minister Ehud Barak has called it "an important day" and has given the military a month to come up with ways to include young ultra-Orthodox men and women into some form of national service until parliament authorizes a new, permanent law.


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