Israeli military chief: Draft ultra-Orthodox Jews

The commander of Israel's military says ultra-Orthodox Jews should be drafted into the army.

Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews have exemptions to continue their religious studies. The exemptions have long been a sore point in Israeli society.

Army Radio quoted Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi as telling parents of newly drafted soldiers Thursday that "those who do not serve must be made to feel ashamed."

He said, "The ultra-Orthodox can also join (the military), and they must be made to do so."

It was one of the strongest statements on the issue by a serving chief of staff.

Despite his call, it was unlikely ultra-Orthodox Jews would face the draft anytime soon. Parties representing them hold the balance of power in Israel's government.