The Military Police launched a large scale operation to apprehend deserters and draft dodgers, whose number has significantly increased in the past year. The operation will last for 10 days and expected to see hundreds arrested and indicted.
According to data, the number of IDF deserters rose from 1,800 in 2010, to 2,700 in 2011, which also recorded 1,800 draft dodgers. No less than 700 of deserters and 800 of draft dodgers are women, some of whom falsely declared they were religious.
It should be noted that last year, the IDF changed its protocol to consider a deserter as a soldier who has been missing for 21 days, compared to 45 days prior to that. As a result, more soldiers are now considered deserters.
In 2011, a similar operation was stopped after one day due to a shortage of space in military prisosn. This year, the army set up special detention centers for 28-day stretches ahead of the operation. In addition, some 100 prisoners with less than eight days to serve were released earlier.
An additional detention center which can contain as many as 1,200 inmates is slated to be built near Bayt Nabala. Prison Six may be converted into a security prisoners' jail.
Thus far, 200 deserters and 15 draft dodgers were arrested. Among the deserters was a 31-year-old woman who failed to report to the Induction Center for 11 years as well as men in their 40s who failed to report to reserve duty for five years.
Data also suggest that 18,000 soldiers are sent to detention ever year, of which 12,000 are transferred to military prisons. "We would have a problem if all deserters and draft dodgers turned themselves in at the same time," a senior IDF source admitted.
"For the most part, the IDF discharges older deserters or draft dodgers after they served their time."