Up to a third – or even more – of draft-age Israelis among the non-chareidi sector skip out on IDF service, figures published Sunday in Yediot Acharonot indicated. According to the report, 32.9% of draft-age soldiers do not serve, procuring exemptions due to a variety of reasons, while an additional 15% drop out of service within their first few months, usually during basic training, citing difficulty in serving and acquiring a discharge. “As a result, as many as 40% of Israeli youths do not serve in the army at all,” the report said.
The numbers of those seeking and being granted exemptions has risen steadily in recent years; in 2007, 26.9% of draft-age soldiers from non-chareidi groups received exemptions. One of the main reasons for the growing numbers has been a sharp increase in the use of “mental exemptions,” in which a draftee claims that they are mentally unable to face army service. In the past five years, the use of that exemption has nearly doubled, accounting today for 8.3% of all exemptions, the report said.
The figures were derived from an internal IDF report that was distributed to commanders by IDF manpower chief General Moti Almoz. In the report, Almoz urges commanders to “take steps to limit the increase in the use of the mental exemption. We must verify whether decisions on these exemptions are being made in a professional manner. IDF service should be seen not just as an obligation or even a right, but as an opportunity for youths to contribute to their country and develop their own personalities.
“Granting these exemptions must be done only after much thought and consideration, with an understanding of what is at stake, and only after consultation with relevant authorities,” the letter added.