Concerns were voiced on Monday ahead of the opening of the Knesset’s summer session that a law to prevent women from fraudulently avoiding the military draft has not been implemented, two years after it was passed into law.
Religious women are able to gain a complete exemption from their mandatory two-year military service, and do so simply by declaring that they keep kosher and observe Shabbat.
In 2013, 57.4 percent of Jewish women of military age enlisted to the army, with 35.9% receiving an exemption on religious grounds. The remainder were ineligible for military service due to medical problems or other reasons.”
However, significant numbers of non-religious women are known to claim fraudulently that they are religious in order to dodge the draft, although precise numbers are not available. The army undertook an inspection campaign in recent years to identify such people, but prosecution of women who gave false declarations was difficult since they were simply able to state that they were religious when they made the declaration but had since become secular.
In 2012, a law was passed enabling the state to prosecute women who state they are religious to evade military service but are subsequently discovered to be non-religious.
It stipulated that any woman receiving an exemption on religious grounds is obligated to inform the army if she becomes non-religious, thereby enabling the army to prosecute women who deliberately misinform the army.
But the legislation was never implemented because the Knesset special committee that was supposed to approve the new amendments never did so.
The Hiddush religious freedom lobbying group heavily criticized the situation on Monday, calling it a severe failure of the political system.
“The burial of this law is a despicable [act] of public deception,” said Uri Regev, president of the organization.
“Two years ago the Knesset celebrated and took full credit for amending the law. It was reasonable to expect that the amendments would be approved as soon as they were passed back to the Knesset. It is hard to think of a reason why this has not been done and why draft evasion is being supported,” Regev said.