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Drop in religious recruits Photo: AP
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Settlers evacuated during disengagement Photo: AFP
 
 

Draft-dodging among national religious youths growing

More and more religious high school graduates evade army service; IDF officials, rightist leaders attribute drop to ideological crisis caused by disengagement

Yossi Yehoshua
Published: 09.06.07, 10:45 / Israel News

Draft-dodging among the graduates of national religious high schools has grown by 7% in the last two years, while the number of draft-dodgers among the general public increased by only 4%, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Thursday.

 

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According to new data, more and more religious youths chose to continue studying in higher yeshivot, instead of enlisting in the army.

 

IDF officials and rightist activists attributed the sharp drop to the deep ideological crisis that followed the disengagement from Gaza in the summer of 2005.

 

"These figures are not surprising at all," said Rabbi David Stav, head of a hesder yeshiva in Petach Tikva. "We warned before the disengagement that it would push the religious youths to draft-dodging… we warned that many teens would have to do serious soul-searching, but no one listened to us."

 

This new trend is causing much concern in the army, and IDF officials are working hard to counter it, by meeting with school principals, rabbis and leaders of the national religious public.

 

Meanwhile, a significant increase was recently registered in the number of religious soldiers who volunteer to elite IDF units or become officers.

 

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