IDF soldiers marching (R) 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
The IDF and Defense Ministry are trying to curb the steady increase in the
number of Israeli youth who prefer to postpone their military service and spend
a year in a pre-military academy.
The Defense Ministry has even come up
with some innovative ways of trying to convince high school students that they
cannot go to pre-military academies.
In one case, a student at a
pluralistic school in the center of the country was told that he could not go to
a religious academy since he did not take the full Talmud matriculation
The IDF said it did not require specific matriculation requirements
from applicants to academies, but Rabbi Moshe Hager, head of the pre-military
academy in Yatir, said that this tactic had been used in the
Students usually study for a year in the academies and then enlist
in the IDF for three years of service, mostly in combat units.
that the Defense Ministry’s Civil-Security Department was working to cut down
the number of soldiers who postpone their service due to a shortage in IDF
According to Hager, there are currently 2,500 students in
pre-military academies, with about half in religious institutions, and the other
half in secular academies.
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“The number of applicants has grown steadily
over the years and we forecast a 15 percent increase in 2012,” Hager
“The Defense Ministry is preventing us from growing under the claim
that the students are needed immediately for military service.”
officials confirmed they were looking for ways to increase the number of
draftees, but also stressed the importance of the pre-military
According to the IDF, about 25% of youth dodge the draft
annually, most of them haredi youth.
Hager said that if the Defense
Ministry prevented high school graduates from studying in pre-military
academies, the religious students would then go to hesder yeshivot, which is a
five-year program that includes just 16 months of military service.
IDF will lose out since the religious youth have an alternative and could go to
hesder yeshivot, and then they will serve for less,” he said. “The secular youth
don’t have an alternative, and they will lose out on the educational experience
of studying in an academy.”
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