Suckers' Tent'
Photo: Avi Peretz
Gabi Ashkenazi
Photo: Motti Kimchi
Ashkenazi calls for universal army service
Former IDF chief attends rally against draft exemption, promotes legislation requiring mandatory army service for Israelis

Former IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi on Saturday signed a petition calling for a legislation that would require all Israeli citizens to serve in the army.


The fact that a section of the public does not enlist in the IDF "is an indicator of a twisted reality, not only from a security standpoint, but from a social one," he said. "I think that everyone should serve the State of Israel."


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He added that anyone who cannot join the military, must do his part through civilian service.


Ashkenazi made the comments at the launch of a protest campaign organized by several groups aiming to promote mandatory military service for all. The event took place at a protest encampment – dubbed the "Suckers' Tent" – that was set up at Jerusalem's Wohl Rose Park, and was attended by activists, politicians, former army officials, rabbis, authors and artists.


Former Knesset Member Geula Cohen, who spoke at the event, remonstrated against the fact that many young women refuse to enlist for religious reasons. She identified the phenomenon as "unequal sharing of the burden," and added: "It isn't something that we think about, but this distortion reflects upon all our lives without us holding ourselves accountable."  


The High Court of Justice ruled recently against extending the Tal Law, which grants service exemptions to the haredi sector.


The campaign urges Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the heads of the Zionist factions to take advantage of the High Court's ruling to pass a legislation that would require all citizens to enlist in the IDF upon reaching service age.


The Israeli Forum for Equal Service, one of the organizations behind the protest, has drafted a series of clauses that should be included in the legislation, including the demand to cap the number of yeshiva students who would be allowed "to study the Torah to maintain the Israeli people's moral strength."




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