The bill, proposed by MKs Moshe Matalon (Yisrael Beiteinu), Israel Hasson (Kadima), and Miri Regev (Likud), stipulates that any girl who claims she is religious with the aim of being exempt from military service must have the proper documentation to assert her claim – namely a certificate from a religious school.
According to data collected by the IDF, an average of 44% of Israeli girls do not enlist to mandatory service annually, of them an average of 34% for religious reasons. The army believes around a third of these do not actually lead a religious life, making cynical use of the exemption.
The IDF currently employs a private detective service to follow some of the girls who declare themselves religious. "It is currently very easy for a girl to declare a religious lifestyle and be exempted," the IDF official said.
"This new law could make life more difficult for draft-dodgers, therefore minimizing the number of girls who don’t want to serve in the army for unjustified reasons," an IDF official told Ynet.
The bill was promoted by Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar as well as others in the committee, but ultra-Orthodox members of Knesset say the law will harm the status-quo and make it difficult for religious girls not to serve. During the committee meeting a confrontation took place between Sa'ar and Minister Meshulam Nahari of Shas.
"Gideon Sa'ar is supposed to represent the government, not the Opposition," Nahari told Ynet, calling the bill "quarrelsome and superfluous".
Nahari added that the bill had already been debated by the Knesset a number of times, but that this version was far more severe than its predecessors. He said the government should draft a bill that considers all parties, and that the private proposal "thwarts the government process and harms it".
But Kadima praised the proposal. "The Netanyahu government is being tested. Will it lend a hand to draft-dodging or express, once and for all, a moral and just stance?" the party stated.
A number of bills proposed on the matter have been proposed in the past four years, but none have so far been approved. Minister Sa'ar mentioned a State Comptroller Report indicating a sharp rise in draft-dodging, claiming many of the girls who ask for exemption are not actually religious.
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