A recent update introduced to the Israel Defense Forces' dress, appearance and uniform regulations will now make it harder for soldiers to grow beards.
Lieutenant-Colonel Avshi Azulay, head of the IDF's policing and discipline branch, sent a letter to all servicemen stating that "growing a beard outside regulations constitutes an infringement of grooming standards and impairs the IDF image as it is perceived by the public."
Army regulations require male soldiers to be clean-shaven at all times. Growing a mustache or a beard is allowed for medical or religious reasons only, but it requires special authorization.
The new grooming code is the result of a brief complied by the Military Police, the Military Rabbinate, the IDF Personnel Directorate and the Medical Corps. The brief was commissioned after the Military Police reported a steady increase in the number of soldiers growing beards outside regulations.
According to the updated guidelines, any slider wishing to sport a beard will now have to clear it with an officer ranking lieutenant-colonel or higher. Medical-based authorizations will be limited to a certain period of time, while religious authorizations will have to be endorsed by the respective units' rabbi.
A soldier sporting a beard prior to joining the IDF will be given a 45-day authorization from an officer sporting the rank of major and would have to obtain the necessary clearance from lieutenant-colonel within that period of time.
Furthermore, the new regulations state that if a soldier transfers out of his unit, he would have to renew his "beard clearance" with his new commanders. Should the soldier choose to shave off his beard, he will not be eligible to renew his clearance for one year.
A soldier facing disciplinary action for growing a beard outside regulation will also have to wait for 12 months before applying for a new authorization.
Azulay's letter stated that soldiers sporting beards would have until April 1 to obtain the necessary authorization. A soldier whose request is denied would be able to appeal the decision before his commanding officer.