The right-wing weekly Besheva reported Thursday that the Israel Defense Forces has recently toughened its stance on the issue of enlistment of young religious women, and the secretaries at the recruitment offices are no longer accepting the religious statements given to girls by the local rabbinates with the previous ease.
According to the report, the army is attempting to persuade the girls to enlist "using appeals and emotional pressure."
Tzurit Shmuel, an 11th grade student at the Beit Shlomit Ulpana in Jerusalem, described a verbal confrontation that took place between her and the secretary who took care of her file at the enlistment office.
"So what if you're religious?" she was asked. "The fact you have a statement doesn't mean you are exempt… You haven't served in the army, but I have and I'm here to tell you that in the army there is no problem with keeping kosher and the Sabbath. Even if you're religious, you can still serve."
When she attempted to protest, the secretary told Shmuel not to be rude to her, and continued to question her religiousness with questions like, "Do you say a prayer when you come out of the bathroom?"
When the young woman attempted to explain that rabbis prohibit women from enlisting, the secretary told her, "It's too bad you're not religious and don't know why you are not enlisting, but rather merely following rabbis' orders." Finally the secretary agreed to accept the religious statement, but Shmuel's case is not the only one that has been reported.
MK Uri Ariel (National Union-National Religious Party) has turned to Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai and demanded that the latter instruct IDF personnel to stop these encounters from occurring.
"Descriptions of such occurrences at enlistment offices are very serious, and the religious community will not put up with them," Ariel wrote.
"In any case, the enlistment of women to the army is not beneficial to Israeli society in the long run. Israeli society, its values, its traditions, and its economy are damaged by this service."
Despite Ynet's appeals, a response from the IDF has not yet been received.