By COLlive reporter
Rivka Hajaj, a young woman from a Chabad family in Netanya, has been spending 2 weeks in a military prison in Israel for evasion after trying to board a plane with her family.
Israel has mandatory conscription, but exemption from military service is given to women for religious reasons. Four of Hajaj’s sisters were indeed exempted from the army for religious reasons.
But a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Rivka Hajaj didn’t qualify and was therefore imprisoned as done to citizens who refuse to serve in the IDF.
“Rivka Hajaj submitted a religious affidavit in July 2017,” the IDF told Israeli media. “Following evidence that was found and presented to her, which indicated a false statement, the aforementioned has decided to withdraw the religious declaration.
“After the necessary procedures, she was placed for re-enlistment. Despite her waiver of the declaration, after a few months, she again applied for an exemption for religious reasons, and her request was examined by the deputy commander of Meitav and denied, and it was decided that she must be drafted.”
But members of the family protested the decision and called it unfair in an interview with Mendy Rizel, the military correspondent of the Kol Barmah radio station.
“At one point, Rivka went off the derech,” a family member said, referring to Hajaj’s dropping frum Jewish observance during the time when her sister suffered a rare stroke and the family was in a state of turmoil.
“Today she is completely and 100% religious girl and meets all the criteria for granting a religious exemption,” the family member said. “Maybe the army relies on pictures from the past, but a person is allowed to fall spiritually and then return.”
Family members said Rikva has been back in the Chassidic fold for 3 years now but the IDF has still refused to grant her an exemption from military service.
“For three years the army fought her,” the relative said. “She traveled more than 10 times to Haifa and spoke to a lot of commanders and tried to explain their story to them, but no one would listen.”
Street protests in her support were held over the last few days in Israel.