While meeting with President Reuven Rivlin Tuesday, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot declared that the IDF strives to draft as much youth as possible to promote an equality and sharing of the national defense burden.
Eisenkot and Rivlin were addressing 70 influential youths in various fields at the President’s Residence in a meeting that sought to promote and encourage a “fulfilling military service” ahead of the summer 2018 draft.
“Our challenge as an army is not that 67 out of 100 draft-eligible youths enlist, but rather that close to 100 enlist so that there is an equal division of responsibility,” said the IDF chief.
“The message that Israeli society, and the IDF, should convey is one of rewarding the youth who draft and those who serve in the reserves, fathers of children who serve for decades after completing their mandatory service.”
During the meeting, Eisenkot offered an analysis of the current security situation. “There are threats from Lebanon and Hezbollah, which has chosen a strategy of attacking the Israeli home front. In recent months there has been an entrenchment by the Iranians and their capabilities in Syria and there are terror threats on a daily basis in the West Bank, as well as attempts and intentions to carry out terror attacks in the south," he explained.
“The IDF is a powerful force, the strongest in the Middle East. Threats have multiplied and taken on different forms, but I do not see any existential threat to Israel. There are many threats that can harm our routine and quality of life which is why the army must remain strong and powerful.”
President Rivlin also addressed the relatively meager enlistment rates, lamenting the fact that the army no longer serves as a melting pot for a huge proportion of society.
“In the past, the IDF was a melting pot for old, new, wealthy and poor, and for various languages. In the army we were all one unit. Today, unfortunately, only 50% of Israeli youth serve in the IDF,” Rivlin said.
“Our challenge after 70 years is to adapt the army, the people’s army, to a more professional and diverse one, so that it knows how to respond to change but to still maintain it as the people’s army,” added Eisenkot. “There is tremendous national consensus behind the IDF. If you ask me what is the most important thing in order to maintain it as such, it is the public’s trust in the army.”
Despite the bleak statistics, Rivlin proudly related how he often tells world leaders of the IDF's high moral standards.
“I tell princes and presidents who visit that there isn’t a more moral army than ours. We are our soldiers, because after we grow old our children and grandchildren will serve. The State of Israel is under constant scrutiny, especially in the heart of the free world. The state is subject to harsh criticism and societies demand of Israel things that they do not even demand of themselves,” he bemoaned.
At the end of the event, the 70 youths got together with the president and the general for a photo together with performer Noa Kirel and model Sofia Mechetner.