Number of IDF Draft Dodgers Surged 20% in 2013

Israel Defense Forces preparing to make it easier for Haredim serving time in military jail to transition to army life.

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An ultra-Orthodox man walks past an IDF soldier in Jerusalem (illustration.)
An ultra-Orthodox man walks past an IDF soldier in Jerusalem (illustration.)Credit: Moti Milrod
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

There were almost 2,000 draft dodgers from the Israel Defense Forces in 2013, a 20 percent increase on the previous year. Military Police data shows that, currently, the combined number of dodgers (those who received draft orders but never reported for duty) and deserters (soldiers who left their bases without leave) is enough to fill two whole IDF brigades.

Official figures reveal there were 1,985 draft dodgers last year, compared to 1,644 in 2012 - a number presumably swelled by the 2012 demise of the Tal Law, which had offered yeshiva students an exemption from military service.

A law passed in February seeks to share the military burden equally across Israeli society, including the drafting of ultra-Orthodox men, and has sparked much protest in the Orthodox world.

The IDF has now begun preparations to implement the new law. Preparations include expanding programs that will ease the transition into regular service for those imprisoned in military jails, particularly Haredim.

The rehabilitation programs are currently run only by female, noncommissioned officers, who are responsible for interviewing and placing soldiers after they serve time in military jails. There are already ultra-Orthodox men serving time in military jails, although the IDF has not disclosed how many. According to one officer in the Military Police, some of [the Haredim] are willing to be interviewed by women.

At the same time, however, there are complications for ultra-Orthodox men in being interviewed by a woman at close quarters, with the door closed. The Military Police is looking to recruit men to conduct the interviews and facilitate the transition into regular service from jail. Such positions need to be filled at Military Prison 4, located near Rishon Letzion, and Military Prison 6, near Atlit.

According to the new draft laws, criminal sanctions will be leveled against yeshiva students if yearly draft quotas for military and civil service are not met. Sanctions will be similar to those applied under the normal draft laws, by which those who do not report for service are recognized as draft dodgers and subject to jail time.

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