59 lone soldiers make Aliyah on the August 17 Nefesh B'Nefesh Aliyah flight from New York.
(photo credit: SHAHAR AZRAN)
The Immigrant Absorption Ministry announced on Monday the adoption of a policy exempting new immigrants between the ages of 22 and 26 from mandatory army service.
Ministry representative Itzik Ohana informed MKs of the decision in a meeting of the Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee, during which several ministries laid out their proposals for measures to ease the immigration process.
Ministry spokesman Elad Sonn told The Jerusalem Post, “The intention is that the Israeli army will not recruit immigrants who come to Israel between the ages of 22-26.
To date, they were recruited to a service of six months but [the army] realized that it was not effective and they canceled it.”
The ministry welcomed the move, he continued, calling mandatory conscription a “significant barrier,” which had prompted young men to postpone their aliya. Sonn added, “Every immigrant who wishes to volunteer to enlist in the IDF for a significant [term of] service, could to do so in coordination with the IDF.”
Former MK Dov Lipman said, “I am very supportive of this decision.” Lipman currently works with lone soldiers – servicemen, often immigrants, who do not have or are not in touch with family in Israel.
“The issue of army service was one of the number one obstacles for new immigrants in this age group. They have a need to enter the workforce quickly, and this short army service was an obstacle for this,” said Lipman.
“I do believe that army programs where these new immigrants can use their professional training in the IDF should be explored as an optional, voluntary service.
This would give these new immigrants the benefits which come from serving in the IDF and integrating into Israeli society, while continuing to advance their professional careers.