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To help stem a sharp decline in overall draft numbers, including for combat units, the army will enlist more youths with criminal records, IDF Human Resources officers said on Tuesday.
Ahead of the August draft scheduled to begin Sunday, the IDF on Tuesday presented statistics that indicate a sharp rise in the number of potential inductees who don't join the army - 25 percent of those born in 1989 and scheduled to enlist this summer.
Eleven percent received exemptions on grounds of being ultra-Orthodox, up one percentge point compared to last year; 7% did not enlist due to medical reasons, including physical and mental conditions; 4% did not enlist due to criminal records; and 3% live abroad.
"This is a problem that if not stopped will only continue to grow," an IDF Human Resources officer said. "If drastic steps are not taken, then in a few years we might reach the point that 50 percent of potential draftees are not enlisting."
To curb the continued drop in numbers, the IDF is beginning to enlist youth who in the past would not have been drafted due to criminal records. In addition, soldiers discharged on questionable grounds, often by claims of mental problems, will receive exemption papers saying they were released due to "bad behavior."
The IDF hopes this will deter them from pretending to have mental limitations.
Regarding motivation to serve in combat units, the IDF found that 67.3% of draftees with a combat-worthy medical profile asked to serve in combat units, down from 68.9% last year and 70% in November 2006.
A year after the Second Lebanon War during which motivation to serve in combat units rose, IDF Induction Center head Col. Amir Rogobeski downplayed reports of a drop in motivation, saying that compared to four years ago, when 64.3% wanted to serve in combat units, this year's numbers reflected a steady pattern compared to the past two years.
The most popular infantry brigade remains Golani - where two draftees compete for every available spot in the unit. The Nahal Brigade came in second place, followed by the Kfir and Givati Brigades.