Gov't backs follow-up on 'religious' female draft-dodgers
Defense establishment requests legislative help in addressing draft-dodging by declaring religious lifestyle. Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs votes to support bill to setup surveillance system on young women draft-dodgers of this sort. Deputy Minister Litzman threatens coalition crisis
Is a coalition crisis around the corner? The cabinet decided to support a bill intended to combat the phenomenon of women evading mandatory military service via fictitious declarations of a religious lifestyle. Deputy Health Ministry Yakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) threatened that should the bill be passed, the coalition could fall apart.
The bill, which was passed in the Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs on Sunday, a surveillance mechanism will be established to follow up on young women released from the IDF
on religious grounds.
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar said during the deliberations, "We, too, have fundamental core issues, such as serving in the IDF."
The IDF has been grappling with the growing phenomenon for some years. Under the direction of IDF Personnel Directorate Brig. Gen. Avi Zamir, the military recently upped its follow-up and control efforts on young women who make such declarations in identify false statements. For instance, half-naked pictures of one such young woman were found on an internet website, thus showing that she does not lead a religious lifestyle.
The IDF employs private investigation companies and even documents young women engaging in "non-religious" activities on Shabbat. The increased pressure paid off, and more than 1,000 young women who had made religious lifestyle declarations notified the IDF that they would enlist.
The Personnel Directorate said that the bill, if passed, will be used to institute an organized follow-up system to ensure that only the young women who are indeed eligible for military exemption are the ones to receive it.
About a month ago, the IDF Personnel Directorate published worrisome figures showing a spike in the number of young women who do not enlist. In 1991, 32.8% of young women who were fit for enlistment did not join the IDF's ranks. This figure jumped to 44% last year. An increase in draft-dodging was also listed among young men. In 1991, 18.2% of young men did not enlist, while 25.8% did not enlist last year.
The IDF is concerned by the increase in the number of young women who cannot enlist because of a religious lifestyle. In 1991, 21.3% of young women declared they could not enlist because they lead a religious lifestyle. This year, that number rose to 34.6%. The IDF Personnel Directorate estimated that 8% out this figure are not indeed religious.
Hanan Greenberg contribute to this report