IDF Admits ‘Gross Negligence’ in Counting Chareidi Recruits

YERUSHALAYIM -
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The IDF on Thursday officially admitted to inflating its reports on the number of chareidi recruits, blaming the inaccurate figures on “gross negligence.”

An investigatory report submitted to Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, which described it as a “serious systematic command failure,” fell just short of admitting to deliberate falsification, as had been alleged in media reports.

The count of chareidim in its ranks disseminated by the army over a period of several years reached as much as triple the actual numbers, according to Kan broadcaster, the first to break the story back in December.

In 2011, the IDF reported that 1,200 chareidim were drafted when in fact only 600 enlisted. In 2017, the military stated that 3,070 were drafted when in fact only 1,374 enlisted.

The investigation found that there were no more than 2,000 chareidi men serving in the IDF between 2011-2018.

While “there was a feeling of falsifying the numbers, it was not intentionally done by the military. There was no lying and no fabrication of numbers,” said Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Roni Numa, who headed the probe.

He stressed to reporters on Thursday that the misreporting was due, at least in part, on shifting and imprecise definitions of “chareidi” for purposes of recruitment figures.

The report said the IDF included both people who studied for two or more years in a school identified as chareidi and those who were said to live a “chareidi lifestyle” as qualifying for inclusion in the count. Often, people who were no longer living as chareidim were nevertheless identified as such, and included in the count.

Still, Numa acknowledged that whatever the technical difficulties, “it is not acceptable that there are such gaps in the numbers.”

Numa’s team also cited sloppy record-keeping and work methods in the Manpower Directorate department. In some cases, women and Muslim men were counted as chareidi male recruits.

The investigatory committee recommended systemic policy changes, including clarification the legal definition of “chareidi” and the need to formulate a national strategy for drafting them.

Maj.-Gen. Moti Almoz, head of the IDF’s Manpower Directorate, which compiled the figures, took full responsibility for the misreporting, and will receive a formal reprimand, along with other officers who were found to have acted improperly.