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Israel’s Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef. (Photo:, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef has threatened that ultra-Orthodox Jews will leave the country if they are forced to enlist. His comments have sparked harsh criticism among Israeli leaders.

Israel’s Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef has threatened that ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredim) will leave the country if they are forced to serve in the army, Israeli media reported.

“If they force us to join the army, we would all fly out of the country, buy tickets, and go,” Channel 12 reported on Saturday evening, quoting the chief rabbi of Sephardic Jews as saying.

“They have to understand this, all those secularists, they don’t get it,” the chief rabbi said, warning that “it puts the state at stake.”

“They (secular Israelis) have to understand that without the Torah, without kollels and yeshivas (Jewish colleges for Talmudic studies), the army would not be successful,” he added.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews reject Israel’s secular education system, preferring to send their children to religious schools (yeshivas).

Under current Israeli law, Jews educated at yeshivas are exempted from military service.

Lapid: ‘Insult and Disgrace’

Commenting on Rabbi Yosef’s declaration, Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid said that the ultra-Orthodox community would struggle to adjust to life abroad, since many of them do not work. 

“If the Haredim go abroad, they will find that the ultra-Orthodox there work for a living, not even dreaming that someone will finance them,” Lapid told Israeli Army Radio, according to The Times of Israel newspaper.

In a statement on Sunday morning, Lapid said that “if 66,000 Haredi youths enlist, the IDF (Israeli army) will receive 105 new battalions essential for Israel’s security.”

The opposition leader also said that Yosef’s statement is “an insult and disgrace to the IDF soldiers who risk their lives to defend the country,” Israel Hayom reported.

Gantz: A Moral Affront

Israeli War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz joined Lapid in his harsh criticism of Yosef’s words.

Rabbi Yosef’s words are a moral affront to the state and Israeli society,” Gantz reportedly said

“Everyone should take part in the sacred right to serve and fight for our state, especially in this difficult time. Even our haredi brothers,” he added.

Ben-Gvir: ‘Understanding and Love’

Harsh criticism of Yosef’s words was not shared by Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

“We do not believe in forcing the ultra-Orthodox public to enlist, and these things need to be done out of understanding and love,” he said, suggesting that “much of the controversy could be resolved through enlistment to the police and national guard.”

Gaza Genocide

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7. 

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 31,045 Palestinians have been killed, and 72,654 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip. 

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire.’ 

(PC, Anadolu)

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