Israeli Army Will Stop Drafting People With Nut Allergies

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IDF officer addresses soldiers. Credit: IDF Spokesperson Unit

The Israel Defense Forces has decided not to recruit Israelis suffering from nut allergies following the recommendations of a committee of put together following the unfortunate death of a soldier.

The soldier, Shalev Hazan, died during his basic training after a severe allergic recation caused by mistakenly eating some granola that contained nuts. His death prompted the formation of a special committee, whose recommendations have not yet been presented to Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot or received the army’s final approval for its findings, but a decision has already been made to alter some of the army’s policy regarding soldiers who have severe allergies.

The changes include a decision not to draft people who have life-threatening allergies to nuts.

Up to now, the list of life-threatening allergies that would be cause for exemption from military service included severe allergies to protein, sesame and a few other basic foods. Now, in the wake of work done by the Medical Corps, young people with severe allergies to nuts will also not be drafted automatically, but be issued a medical exemption that says they are not fit for military service, with what the army calls a "profile 21."

However, these young people will also be given the option of volunteering for army service. If they do choose this option, they would be stationed in units located within a certain distance of a hospital, and where the dining hall could be outfitted to suit the soldiers’ food sensitivities, or where arrangements have already been made for other soldiers there with food allergies.

The army’s latest decision comes on the heels of other moves that have been made in the past couple of months. Last month, Haaretz reported that the IDF had started to place signs in the army dining halls with warnings about various ingredients, like nuts, peanuts and grains, in the food being served.

It was also reported that more soldiers are now being issued EpiPen syringes, to be used in the event of a severe allergic reaction that threatens cardiac activity. All company medics are also to be issued EpiPens for use in case the allergic soldiers or their comrades have problems administering the needed injection.

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