Major-General Orna Barbivai, head of the IDF's Personnel Directorate, reported last week of a rise in the number of young women who are not drafted for religious reasons (35% of all young women who do not enlist, compared to 31.6% in 2006).
In the past year, 1,527 female students in secular high schools claimed to be religious in order to be exempt from service, and military officials believe the numbers will grow slightly in the coming years.
Officials at the IDF Personnel Directorate believe that at least 8% of the young women claiming to be religious lied to the local rabbinical court, which recommends that they be exempt from service under three conditions – the girl must declare that she doesn't travel on Shabbat, eats kosher food and cannot serve in the army on religious grounds.
The young woman receives the rabbinical court's recommendation on the spot and passes it on to the army, which must exempt her from service within two months.
Caught? No need to enlist
The defense establishment is relying on a bill which recently passed its first reading, allowing a recruitment center commander to summon a young woman who falsely claimed to be religious, up to two years after the date of the declaration.
The private investigators, whose service costs the army hundreds of thousands of shekels a year, follow the "religious" women, mainly on Shabbat and through social networks, and easily prove that their declarations were false.
However, the IDF cannot force a young woman who lied to enlist. It all depends on her good will.
In 1% of the cases, women whose false declarations were exposed agreed to report to the recruitment center. In other cases, the army files a complaint with the police, but in 90% of the incidents the case is closed due to failure to prove guilt or lack of public interest.
"The girl just has to say that when she made the declaration she was religious," a source at the IDF Personnel Directorate explains. "The same applies for the 10% of cases in which long legal proceedings are launched on the single charge of supplying false information to a government authority.
"In one case, about two years ago, the court acquitted a girl who claimed to be religious, and later a picture of her wearing close to nothing was published in one of the newspapers."