IDF to tighten screws on deserters in shadow of Gaza war

Army reports some 2,000 deserters, predominantly conscripts, whose absence—while others volunteer for service in wartime—undermines values of responsibility and equality

The Israel Defense Forces announced Wednesday that it will apply more severe punishments against soldiers who are absent without leave (AWOL) during the war in Gaza.
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There currently are some 2,000 IDF deserters and, beginning on December 1, enforcement and punishment will be intensified for soldiers who do not report to their units, two months after the outbreak of the war with Hamas in Gaza.
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הפעילות הקרקעית של כוחות צה״ל ברצועת עזה
הפעילות הקרקעית של כוחות צה״ל ברצועת עזה
IDF forces in the Gaza Strip
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
The punishment is expected to be one to three days of actual military prison for each day of absence, compared to shorter detention periods in the past. Currently, most of the deserter soldiers are in mandatory service, with some having gone AWOL before October 7. Hundreds of the AWOL soldiers are in the reserve forces.
The decision to toughen treatment for AWOL soldiers comes after the IDF recently decided to ease conditions for those who return to their units and participate in the war effort over the past month. Many of the AWOL soldiers took advantage of this opportunity, rejoining their units, including some combat operatives. Indictments against them are expected to be filed after the war, with due consideration given to their actual penalties.
Many reserve soldiers, who were not originally part of the IDF's regular forces, volunteered out of personal initiative to step up, take risks and participate in the war effort. However, some other soldiers are still at home in violation of the law amid the ongoing war. The military stressed that absence from service during wartime is particularly severe, reflected in the serious consequences, because it disrupts the values of responsibility and equality, which are especially crucial during times of war.
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