The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday discussed the military protocol allowing parents in bereaved families to prevent their children from performing combat service. According to data presented in the session, each year, between four and five families refuse to have their children serve in military combat units.
The committee's chairman, MK Tzachi Hanegbi said, "I am of the opinion that parents should be completely relieved from dealing with this issue and with the dilemma of whether to make use of their veto right."
The IDF's representative, Colonel Yair Ben-Shalom, presented a plan being formulated to handle the sensitive issue, aimed at "taking this procedure out of the parents' hands, and holding extensive dialogue between a senior skilled casualty assistance calls officer and the candidate regarding his desires, while still giving the parents the right to object at any point in time, including during enlistment."
"The son or daughter do not sign. They receive a draft order, and in their order, they receive a list of professions not included in the combat units, due to their belonging to a bereaved family," he said.
"In order to receive a draft order (for combat service), they must declare they wish to volunteer, they must want to serve in the (combat) units, and then they will receive an additional order."
According to Ben-Shalom, this will be done with the help of a senior casualty assistance calls officer. "When we recognize objection within the family, entry to the process of preparing the child for enlistment is done with their agreement, in the event that the parents do not object.
"If the parents do object, they can inform the casualty assistance calls officer at any point in time and declare their objection, and the process will be halted."
Ben-Shalom also presented numbers on the rate of enlistment of children of bereaves families. According to him, each year 250 children of bereaved families join the military, out of which some 40 volunteer in combat units.
"The numbers show us that the scope is not too large. We note the parents' objection each year, something between four to five cases per year. In many instances, the circumstances of the son or daughter's death greatly influence the sibling or orphan's desire to carry on in their path.
"We receive requests from those wishing to carry the weapon used by the sibling during their service, or wishing to be enlisted to the same unit as the father. The difficulty for the families stems from the fear of another loss. The main principle we follow is the need to settle the enlistment process the children undergo on their way to service. I constantly hear of the difficulties the parents have in this process."