Only 52% of Israeli
teenagers enlist in the IDF – this was the statistic presented Tuesday morning to the education committee by Col. Tziki Sela, head of the army's Department of Planning and Manpower Administration.
The data displays an ongoing trend showing that the amount of youths serving in the Israeli army is decreasing. In 2002, 59% enlisted. The figures include Arab and ultra-Orthodox youths, who are exempt from mandatory service.
Sela estimated that there are approximately 7,000 draft dodgers every year.
He added that in the upcoming years the number of people serving in the army is expected to decline even further.
This is mostly due to the extent of the exemptions authorized and the relatively smaller age groups. However, Sela did say that “the IDF is aware of the situation and this will not affect national security. The army has a solution for the decrease in soldiers.”
According to Sela, about 25% of youths who evade service by declaring themselves ultra-Orthodox Torah scholars never attend Orthodox yeshivas.
“Some of the yeshiva heads encourage them not to enlist and instead to sign up for studies, due to budget issues,” he said. The number of ultra-Orthodox youths who shirk their service is expected to continue to increase.
And more girls are also evading service. "A girl who drives on Yom Kippur with
an non-Kosher sandwich in her hand can come and request an exemption on religious ground and by law, I have to accept her claim," said Sela.
On a positive note however, the overall number of girls enlisting has risen and an increase is also apparent in the level of satisfaction amongst boys who serve - a recent study found that 80% are pleased with their service and 70.3% said they were motivated to be combat soldiers
Religion, however, is far from the only prevalent excuse used by those seeking to evade military service.
The army noted an increase in exemptions given to men on medical grounds. There has also been a rise in exemption given to those with criminal records and those living abroad.