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Conscription Conscription, sometimes called the draft in the United States, is the mandatory enlistment of people in a national service, most often a military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and it continues in some countries to the present day ...
exists in
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל; ar, إِسْرَائِيل), officially known as the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, '), is a country in Western Asia, located on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Se ...
for all Israeli citizens over the age of 18 who are
Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are members of an ethnoreligious group and a nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish ...
(both genders), or
Druze The Druze (; ar, درزي ' or ', plural ') are an Arabic-speaking esoteric ethnoreligious group originating in Western Asia who self-identify as The People of Monotheism (''Al-Muwaḥḥidūn''). Jethro of Midian is considered an ancestor o ...
and
CircassianCircassian may refer to: * Pertaining to Circassia, a formerly independent country located in present-day European Russia ** Circassian coast, on the Black Sea * Circassians, also known as Adyghe people ** Circassian beauties, an idealized image of ...

Circassian
(male only);
Arab citizens of Israel Arab citizens of Israel, or Arab Israelis, are Israeli citizens who are Arab. Many Arab citizens of Israel self-identify as Palestinian and commonly self-designate themselves as Palestinian citizens of Israel or Israeli Palestinians.See the t ...

Arab citizens of Israel
are not conscripted. Arab citizens can enlist if they want to but are not required by law. Other exceptions are made on religious, physical, or psychological grounds. As of 2020, the normal length of compulsory service was two years and six months for men (with some roles requiring an additional four months of service), and two years for women (with some roles requiring an additional eight months of service). In 2013, 26% of potential conscripts were exempt from military service: 13.5% for religious reasons, 4% for
mental health Mental health, defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to ma ...
reasons, 2% for physical health reasons, 3% due to criminal records, and 3% due to residing abroad. The Israeli Defense Service Law (חוק שירות ביטחון) regulates these duties and exceptions. According to the Defense Service Law, the enlistment to the
Israeli Defense Forces Israeli may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the State of Israel * Israelis, citizens or permanent residents of the State of Israel * Modern Hebrew, a language * ''Israeli'' (newspaper), published from 2006 to 2008 See also * Israeli ...
is mandatory for all Israeli citizens who have turned 18 (with the above-mentioned exemptions enshrined in the Defense Service Law).


Military service obligation

In 1949, after the founding of the State of Israel, the Defense Service Law gave the IDF the authority to enlist any citizen. Draftees would then be required to show up for the draft in accordance with the military's decision to enlist them. Under this law, the period of service for men was 30 months and for women 18 months (although in accordance with a temporary order from January 10, 1968, six additional months were added to the mandatory service, 36 months for men and 24 months for women respectively.) The service for men has been reduced to 32 months since 2015, and to 30 months since 2020. The draft requirement applies to any citizen or permanent resident who has reached the age of 18, and in accordance with the law, the individuals who are exempt from the draft are dismissed for various reasons, such as incapability, medical problems, military personnel needs, etc. Many of the soldiers who complete their mandatory military service are later obligated to serve in a reserve unit in accordance with the military's needs. Economic constraints on the IDF have caused them to reconsider their structure and slowly shift towards a more modern military. A shift towards a professional militia has caused the IDF to adopt more career-oriented attributes, thus becoming more selective than in prior years. Instead of focusing on “role expansion,” Israel, most specifically its government, is focusing on “nation building.” One of the most extraordinary recent developments is a focus on inclusivity of gay and especially disabled citizens.


Medical profiles

The IDF determines a medical profile for each soldier; according to that profile, the army decides where to assign the draftees. The highest medical profile draftees serve in the five infantry Brigades, Field/Combat Intelligence units, and Combat engineers. The second highest medical profiles are assigned to serve in the Armoured Corps, Artillery, Military Police, Border Police, and
Aman#REDIRECT Aman {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from merge ...
. The lowest acceptable level of medical profiles are drafted into the combat support and combat service support Arms, such as the Adjutant Corps, Logistics Corps, and the Ordnance Corps. Draftees with lower than acceptable profiles (
Profile 21 Profile 21 ( he, פרופיל 21) is a medical profile code used by the military of Israel to classify Israelis who are deemed to have physical or psychological disabilities, making them permanently unfit for military service. Additionally, Profile ...
) and draftees diagnosed as ''not suitable for military service'' are fully exempted from military obligations. The highest profile is 97.


Exemption from service

Although the conscription is officially compulsory, in practice a significant percentage of the population does not enlist for various reasons. Among other things, recent decades have seen a growing, but still very rare, phenomenon of
draft dodging Draft evasion is any successful attempt to elude a government-imposed obligation to serve in the military forces of one's nation. Sometimes draft evasion involves refusing to comply with the military draft laws (formally known as conscription laws ...
from military service, mainly due to conscience or political reasons (See
Refusal to serve in the IDF Refusal to serve in the IDF is when citizens of Israel refuse to serve in the Israel Defense Forces or disobey orders on the grounds of pacifism, antimilitarism, religious philosophy, or political disagreement with Israeli policy such as the occupat ...
). Exemptions have come under attack on grounds of fairness, and also because of a perceived shortage of combat personnel.
Yeshiva A yeshiva (; he, ישיבה, , sitting; pl. , or ) is a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and the Torah, and halacha (Jewish law). The studying is usually done thro ...
students who declare that "Torah study is their artistry" (, ''
Torato Umanuto Torato Umanuto ( he, תורתו אומנותו, , "Torah study is his job") is a special arrangement for the Israeli haredi sector that allows young men enrolled in haredi yeshiva academies to complete their studies before their conscription in the ...
'') can delay their conscription as long as they continue their studies, under the so-called ''Tal Law''. In practice, many of them end up never serving at all. This is a very controversial issue in Israel and key component of
religious relations in Israel Religious relations in Israel are relations between Haredim, non-Haredi Orthodox, Karaite, Ethiopian, Reform, Conservative, and secular Jews, as well as relations between different religions represented in Israel. The religious status quo, agreed to ...
. Several attempts were made to change the practice, notably the establishment of the
Tal committee#REDIRECT Tal Committee {{R from move ...
in 1999, which led to the ''Tal Law'', implemented in 2002. Yet the ''Torato Umanuto'' exemption continued largely unchanged. The Tal Law was later ruled unconstitutional in its current form, and a replacement is needed before August 2012. Most beneficiaries of this exemption are
Haredi Jews Haredi Judaism ( he, חֲרֵדִי ', ; also spelled ''Charedi'', plural ''Haredim'' or ''Charedim'') consists of groups within Orthodox Judaism characterized by a strict adherence to ''halakha'' (Jewish law) and traditions, as opposed to modern v ...

Haredi Jews
. Members of the
Religious Zionist Religious Zionism ( he, צִיּוֹנוּת דָּתִית, translit. ''Tziyonut Datit'') is an ideology that combines Zionism and Orthodox Judaism. Adherents are also referred to as ''Dati Leumi'' ( "National Religious"). The community is sometime ...
sector often serve within a separate system called
Hesder Hesder ( he, הסדר "arrangement"; also Yeshivat Hesder ) is an Israeli yeshiva program which combines advanced Talmudic studies with military service in the Israel Defense Forces, usually within a Religious Zionist framework. These ''yeshivot'' a ...
which combines advanced Talmudic studies with military service in the Israel Defense Forces. The IDF also tends to make the military service easier for recruits at an older age and recruits with families, as well as athletes and musicians of note. From time to time a public debate emerges in Israel around the issue of
exemption from military service in Israel Exemption from military service in Israel is covered by the Israeli Security Service Law (חוק שירות ביטחון) which states the grounds for exemption from serving in the Israel Defense Forces. Exemptions are given based on the following ...
. A basic law of Israel is the Israeli Defense Service Law. It lists the guidelines and regulations of mandated military service in Israel. Some regulation includes age, duties, service requirements, time of service, etc. Chapter 5: Reserve Service: Going Abroad covers the rules and requirements for going on becoming a temporary reserve and going abroad. (a) A person designated for defense service and a person of military age who belongs to the regular forces of the Israel Defense Forces shall not go abroad unless granted a permit from the
Minister of Defense A defence minister or minister of defence is a cabinet official position in charge of a ministry of defense, which regulates the armed forces in sovereign states. The role of a defence minister varies considerably from country to country; in some ...
. (b) A person of military age the continuance of whose regular service has been deferred for any reason shall not go abroad during the period of deferment save under a permit from the Minister of Defense. (c) A permit under this section may be unconditional or subject to conditions, including a condition relating to the holder's stay abroad. (e) Where any of the conditions of the permit is not fulfilled, the Minister of Defense may revoke the permit and may direct him, by order, to return to Israel within the time prescribed in the order. (f) The Minister of Defense shall not exercise his power under subsection (e) before he has given the holder of the permit an opportunity to state his case to him. The IDF had strict restraints on letting individuals go into the reserves, even if just temporarily because of their high risk of attack from neighboring states. Through the dissolution of partnerships and peace treaties in recent years, that threat has reduced considerably. Consequently, the high demand for IDF soldiers has slightly decreased as well.


Policy regarding various specific population groups

* The IDF does not conscript
Arab citizens of Israel Arab citizens of Israel, or Arab Israelis, are Israeli citizens who are Arab. Many Arab citizens of Israel self-identify as Palestinian and commonly self-designate themselves as Palestinian citizens of Israel or Israeli Palestinians.See the t ...

Arab citizens of Israel
who are Muslim or Christian, however, increasing numbers choose to volunteer for military service. Many
Bedouins The Bedouin, Beduin or Bedu (; , singular ; , singular ) are nomadic Arab Tribes who have historically inhabited the desert regions in the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula, Upper Mesopotamia, and North Africa. However, the Arabian Peninsula is the ...
enlist on a voluntary basis. For
Druze The Druze (; ar, درزي ' or ', plural ') are an Arabic-speaking esoteric ethnoreligious group originating in Western Asia who self-identify as The People of Monotheism (''Al-Muwaḥḥidūn''). Jethro of Midian is considered an ancestor o ...
and
CircassianCircassian may refer to: * Pertaining to Circassia, a formerly independent country located in present-day European Russia ** Circassian coast, on the Black Sea * Circassians, also known as Adyghe people ** Circassian beauties, an idealized image of ...
men, enlistment is mandatory. *
Yeshiva A yeshiva (; he, ישיבה, , sitting; pl. , or ) is a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and the Torah, and halacha (Jewish law). The studying is usually done thro ...
students who declare that "Torah study is their profession" (, ''
Torato Umanuto Torato Umanuto ( he, תורתו אומנותו, , "Torah study is his job") is a special arrangement for the Israeli haredi sector that allows young men enrolled in haredi yeshiva academies to complete their studies before their conscription in the ...
'') could delay their conscription as long as they continue their studies, under the so-called ''Tal Law'' until it has been cancelled. * Female draftees who state that they maintain a religious Jewish way of life are exempt from military service, and many of them choose to volunteer for an alternative national service called
Sherut Leumi Sherut Leumi ( he, שירות לאומי, lit. ''National Service'') is an alternative voluntary national service in Israel for those who are ineligible for service in the Israel Defense Forces or object to serving in the army for religious or oth ...
. * Male members of the
Religious Zionist Religious Zionism ( he, צִיּוֹנוּת דָּתִית, translit. ''Tziyonut Datit'') is an ideology that combines Zionism and Orthodox Judaism. Adherents are also referred to as ''Dati Leumi'' ( "National Religious"). The community is sometime ...
sector often serve within a separate system called
Hesder Hesder ( he, הסדר "arrangement"; also Yeshivat Hesder ) is an Israeli yeshiva program which combines advanced Talmudic studies with military service in the Israel Defense Forces, usually within a Religious Zionist framework. These ''yeshivot'' a ...
which combines advanced Talmudic studies with military service in the Israel Defense Forces. They normally serve for a year and five months instead of three years. * Draftees who state that they are
pacifist Pacifism is opposition to war, militarism (including conscription and mandatory military service) or violence. The word ''pacifism'' was coined by the French peace campaigner Émile Arnaud and adopted by other peace activists at the tenth Univ ...
s are required to appear before a committee tasked with examining the credibility of their claim. Exemption from service is granted if the committee is persuaded that their pacifism is sincere and meets the agreed criteria. Only a few individuals each year are granted an exemption on grounds of pacifism; all other self-declared pacifists are required to enlist. * Immigrants who immigrate to Israel at the age of recruitment get various concessions in their military service. * Draftees with a physical disability which are exempt from military service may still volunteer to serve. It can be a symbolic service of four hours a day, but they might also end up serving in full-time military service. * Leading active
athletes An athlete (also sportsman or sportswoman) is a person who competes in one or more sports that involve physical strength, speed or endurance. The use of the term in several sports, such as golf or auto racing, becomes a controversial issue. At ...
might in many cases be granted an "Outstanding athlete" status which allows them to get a more convenient and shorter service, so they can continue to develop their career and represent Israel abroad in international competitions. The "Outstanding athlete" status is given only to athletes competing in Olympic sports. In addition, the military also grants the similar "Outstanding dancer" status and an "Outstanding musician" status. This status is granted in the same way and after the individuals have been examined. They may also be granted a more convenient service so that they can continue to improve their abilities and career during military service.


Draft process

The military draft process occurs in the following steps: The Army calls upon a potential soldier in a letter and this is called the "First Calling" or Tzav Rishon. This letter states that the teenager must report to a certain place at a certain time for a day-long examination and interviewing. After careful looking over of the Tzav Rishon's results the army will call the people to enlist when they turn a certain age to begin the army process and basic training.


Deferment

There are various routes which allow the draftees to postpone the date of recruitment. An automatic postponement is granted for student to graduate from high school. Additional routes which lead to the postponing of the recruitment: * Volunteering for a one-year service in a
youth organization The following is a list of youth organizations. A youth organization is a type of organization with a focus upon providing activities and socialization for minors. In this list, most organizations are international unless noted otherwise. 0 ...
. * Postponement of conscription due to the IDF needs, usually due to a course beginning in a date which occurs later than the original drafting date given to the draftee. * Postponement of conscription due to various personal reasons. * One can postpone the draft in a year in order to go to Torah studies. * One can postpone the draft as part of the
Hesder Hesder ( he, הסדר "arrangement"; also Yeshivat Hesder ) is an Israeli yeshiva program which combines advanced Talmudic studies with military service in the Israel Defense Forces, usually within a Religious Zionist framework. These ''yeshivot'' a ...
agreement.


Academic programs

* Academic Reserve - a program designed to enlist and train soldiers which have an academic background in fields vital to the military's needs. * Talpiot program - an elite training program for young people who have demonstrated outstanding academic ability in the sciences, physics and mathematics. Graduates of the Talpiot program pursue higher education while serving in the army, and then utilize their expertise to further IDF research and development. * The pilot course also offers a Tal college degree. * The
Israeli Naval Academy The Israeli Naval Academy is a voluntary course, dedicated to the training, education and selection of Naval Officers, and it takes place alongside other instructional courses at the Naval Command School in the Israeli Naval Instruction Base. The ...
(קורס חובלים), whose candidates study for a degree from the University of Haifa, Haifa University during the course.


Incompatibility and adjustment difficulties

During the drafting process sometimes draftees get exempted from the draft because of incompatibility. Sometimes the incompatibility of an individual is determined later on during his or her military service, and leads to dismissal from the army. The incompatibility may stem from various reasons: * Criminal record or history of using drugs. * Low motivation to serve. When there is a surplus of recruits, the military often raises the threshold required of recruits, and grants an exemption due to incompatibility to a much larger number of recruits. In addition, there is a widespread phenomenon of granting exemption from military service because of incompatibility to female candidates who were identified as having a low medical profile and/or low motivation to serve. In such cases the reason for the exemption would usually be stated as: "Excess of female recruits." The IDF can also determine that a draftee has adjustment difficulties. A soldier with adjustment difficulties would not serve as a combat soldier.


Volunteering

A draftee found unfit for military service may still choose to volunteer for military service; his status will be similar to all the other draftees found to be fit for service. Once enlisted, these volunteers cannot choose to quit the military early.


Civilian national service

There is an alternative voluntary civilian national service in Israel for those that cannot or do not wish to serve in the Israel Defense Forces.


Future

The IDF has reportedly concluded that it will, at some point in the future, have to end conscription in favor of an all-volunteer force. Reasons include growing unpopularity of military service among Israeli youth, a growth in draft-dodging, and budgetary constraints that would prevent the IDF from conscripting all those eligible even if draft-dodging were not an issue. Israel is reportedly studying how the United States and European nations ended conscription and transitioned to all-volunteer forces, for a possible future transition.


See also

* Israel Defense Forces * Women in the Israel Defense Forces


References


External links


IDF: Nearly 28% of Israeli males avoided conscription in 2007
- published in Haaretz
Dodging Israel's draft
- published on BBC News
Israel confronts flagging interest in military service
- published in washingtonpost.com {{DEFAULTSORT:Conscription In Israel Conscription in Israel, Military of Israel Conscription by country, Israel