Israeli Army Hopes to Reduce Arrest of Ethiopian Soldiers by 15 Percent

Soldiers of Ethiopian origin comprise just 3 percent of army personnel, but they constitute 13 percent of the population in military prisons; goal is part of greater plan to support community.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The army seeks to reduce by 15 percent within two years the number of soldiers of Ethiopian origin who are sent to military prison. The decision comes in the wake of a directive from the Personnel Directorate of the Israel Defense Forces.

According to the most recent figures, 30 percent of all soldiers from Israel’s Ethiopian immigrant community are jailed at least once during their military service. For men, the figure was 38 percent. Nearly one-fourth are jailed more than once.

Soldiers of Ethiopian origin comprise just 3 percent of army personnel, but they constitute 13 percent of the population in military prisons.

In the past few years the army has established a number of programs to prepare members of the Ethiopian community for military service and to support them throughout their service. These include rehabilitation services for soldiers who have been in military jail. A mentor program matches reserve-duty officers from the community with soldiers.

Speaking to the Knesset caucus for Ethiopian-immigrant soldiers yesterday, Maj. Hila Halperin of the Personnel Directorate said the IDF has set a goal of reducing by 30 percent the number of soldiers from the community who serve in administrative roles. More than 20 percent of soldiers of Ethiopian origin currently serve in such jobs. The army also wants to assign 10 percent of recruits from the community, within two years, to high-level placements such as the Air Force, Military Intelligence ad technology and logistics.

The IDF also seeks to reduce the early-discharge rate for Ethiopian soldiers. As of 2012, one-quarter of all male soldiers from the community do not complete their full term of service.

A military prisonCredit: Nir Keidar

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