JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Knesset committee authorized the call-up of an additional 10,000 Israeli reserve soldiers.
On Sunday, the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee approved a government request for the call-up. Nearly 100,000 Israeli reservists have been called up since the start of Operation Protective Edge on July 8.
The committee also extended the special Home Front requirements until Sept. 2, calling on the Finance Ministry to finalize by then the amount of compensation the state will pay to residents of the south that have sustained property damage.
Also Sunday, Israeli lawmaker Elazar Stern of the Hatnua party in a letter to Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon called for the drafting of Hesder yeshiva students in place of reservists.
Students of Hesder yeshivas spend up to two years studying, serve for 17 months in the military and then return to a year-and-a-half of yeshiva studies, which is considered unpaid reserve duty.
Stern wrote that drafting the students would cost the state less and offer relief to reserve soldiers. He added that the students have been on summer break, which ends on Wednesday, the first day of the Hebrew month of Elul.
“When considering the absurdity that 20-year-old soldiers are on vacation and reservists with family are on guard duty or on patrols, it appears to me that this issue should be examined, if not at this time, then for the challenges that lie ahead of us,” he wrote.
The Association of Hesder Yeshivot responded, according to The Jerusalem Post, that Hesder yeshiva students have served in every area of the military during the current conflict with Gaza and that “yeshiva students have not been absent from those who have been wounded.” Many of the students, the association noted, stayed with their units even when they were scheduled to return to yeshiva.
“Yeshiva students of the Hesder program are present and ready for every task the army gives them and for every purpose, and those who have not been required for military missions will return next week to the yeshivot to increase the Torah study which is no less important than the security operations,” the association said.