Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Israel: New Law on National Civilian Service Obligations for Yeshiva Students

(Apr. 2, 2014) On March 12, 2014, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) passed new legislation regulating national civilian service obligations for yeshiva (Jewish ultra-orthodox religious school) students and establishing the Agency for National Civilian Service (hereinafter the Agency) to implement the legal requirements associated with the service operations. (National Civilian Service Law, 5774-2014 [in Hebrew] [hereinafter NCS Law], the Knesset website, [scroll down to appropriate link]; see also Ruth Levush, Israel: Amendment Law Imposes Military Draft and National Service Obligations on Yeshiva Students, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Mar. 31, 2014), //

According to the NCS Law, yeshiva students who have agreed to contribute to the national civilian service in lieu of military service, pursuant to the Defense Service (Amendment No. 19) Law 5774-2014, will be placed by the Agency at a body [hereinafter “operational body”] authorized by the Agency for that purpose. (NCS Law, §§ 1-2; Defense Service (Amendment No. 19) Law 5774-2014 [in Hebrew] Knesset website, [scroll down to appropriate link].)

The NCS Law provides that national civilian service may be either “civilian social” or “civilian security” service. (NCS Law, §§ 3-4.)

Civilian Social Service

“Civilian social” service can be performed in any of the following areas: homeland security; health; welfare; child education; environmental protection; immigration absorption; assistance to senior citizens; road safety; public security; promotion of employment; provision of public information on rights; and locating archived materials in the state archives. (Id. § 3(a)-(b).) “Civilian social” service can also include service at government agencies in the fields of information security, military export, and acquisitions and logistics. (Id. § 3(c).)

Civilian Security Service

“Civilian security” service can be performed in the following operational bodies: special units of the Prime Minister’s Office that deal with state security and public safety, the Israel Police, the Prison Authority, the National Agency of Fire Fighting and Rescue, the Agency for Protection of Witnesses, the Environmental Police in the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Medical Emergency Response Service, and other national organizations that deal with saving lives and identifying disaster victims. (Id. § 4(a)-(b).)

National Civilian Service Abroad

Although national civilian service is generally to be done within the territory of Israel or in areas under Israel’s military control in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), service abroad may be approved for certain purposes, including assistance to Israelis outside of the state’s borders, assistance to those wishing to immigrate to Israel, and aid to Israelis in emergency situations, as well as for the purpose of representing Israel abroad. Service abroad must be arranged with the foreign country where it will be performed; the arrangement should include the provision of entry and residence visas for those fulfilling national civilian service. According to the NCS, service abroad may not be performed in North America or in Western Europe. (Id. § 5.)

National Civilian Service Conditions

The NCS Law clarifies that there will be no employment relationships between persons who perform national civilian service and the operating body where the service is performed. The Law requires servicemen to be compensated for their transportation costs, as well as for their sustenance, at rates determined according to the type of service provided and the serviceperson’s family situation. Compensation rates, however, must not exceed those paid to conscripts serving mandatory military service. (Id. § 8(a)-(c).)

The NCS Law requires that haredi (ultra-orthodox) servicemen will be provided the special accommodations needed to maintain their haredi lifestyle. The Law requires that the operational body will appoint an employee with a suitable background and familiarity with the haredi lifestyle. This employee will conduct necessary examinations to ensure the provision of suitable conditions to the haredi servicemen and will be able to receive complaints and inquiries relating to haredi accommodation needs. (Id. § 8(d).)

Establishment of the Agency for National Civilian Service

The NCS Law establishes the Agency for National Civilian Service and provides for its operating procedures. The Agency will be headed by a general manager, who will be subordinate to a Minister designated by the government for implementation of the NCS Law. This Minister will appoint supervisors to carry out investigations under the Law. The NCS Law authorizes supervisors to obtain information and enter premises belonging to operational bodies in accordance with conditions enumerated by the Law. Special arrangements, however, apply to the authority of the supervisors in relation to the defense system. (Id. §§ 19-22.)