Fanny Yitzhak may have completed her national service, but for the past two months, as far as the IDF was concerned, she was nothing but another draft-dodger.
Yitzhak, who has spent a large part of this month in IDF detention, will be the subject of a hearing in the Knesset's State Control Committee on Monday. But on Sunday, The Jerusalem Post managed to discover what Yitzhak still had not been told that after an MK's intervention and the publication of her story, the army would be giving her the exemption from IDF service to which she was entitled.
Yitzhak, the daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, volunteered for national
service after finishing high school. She completed her stint at Clalit's
Center for Child Development in Jaffa in September and began to work at
a local gas station while considering her academic future.
But the 19-year-old did not foresee that a part of that future would be spent as an unwilling guest of the IDF.
"On November 1, the day before my sister's wedding, the Military Police
came to my house at 3 a.m. to take me to the Tel Hashomer Induction
Base. They said that I was a draft evader," Yitzhak recalled. "I told
them that I finished national service with distinction, and they said,
'Bring your papers, and if everything is in order, they'll release you
in the morning.'"
Four hours later, at the base, Yitzhak was woken up, placed in
handcuffs, and informed that she was about to be inducted into the IDF.
Yitzhak, who was supposed to spend the day chaperoning her sister as she
prepared for her wedding, refused.
She was taken before a tribunal and tried, but managed to convince them
to allow her to go home for the wedding, and then report back to Tel
Hashomer for her punishment.
When she reported back to Tel Hashomer, the same routine was repeated.
Once again, she was sent from office to office, and ultimately told that
the only way that she could get a hearing to prove that she was not a
draft-dodger was to agree to be inducted.
The source of Yitzhak's sorrows, it turned out, was a bureaucratic slip-up that she had made two years earlier.
Yitzhak, a religiously observant girl from a religious family, had
decided as a high school student that "the framework of national service
was more appropriate for me, because I'm religious and... the
environment would be better."
In accordance with IDF requirements, Yitzhak appeared before the local
rabbinate and made a declaration that she was religiously observant and
exempt from the draft.
Yitzhak didn't realize, however, that she also had to either present the
statement in person to her local draft board or send it via certified
mail to the IDF in order to receive a formal draft exemption.
"The national service didn't ask me for any documentation regarding the
exemption," said Yitzhak. "All the documents that I knew I had to give
them, I took care of; I did everything on time, and started my service
in advance of many of my friends."
During her service, Yitzhak claims, IDF representatives called her to
check on her draft status, and Yitzhak faxed them her statement from the
rabbinate. When the IDF stopped calling, she assumed that the problem
Instead, after returning from her sister's wedding, Yitzhak was
sentenced to seven days' detention at Tel Hashomer for refusing once
again to be inducted. When a staff-sergeant-major ordered her to do
menial labor on the base during her detention, Yitzhak again refused, as
she had not been inducted. As punishment, the soft-spoken Yitzhak was
tried again and sentenced to an additional five days' detention.
Last week, after being released, she reported for yet another series of hearings on her case.
"They asked me why I thought I was better than girls who serve two years
in the army. I said that I didn't think that I was better but that as
a religious girl, I didn't have to do anything at all, and I
volunteered for national service," she recounted.
"I said that this was all new to me because I don't have any connections
to the army, and I didn't understand how the paperwork was supposed to
be completed," she added.
The four-person panel that heard her case returned split, with some
recommending that she be required to complete a year of IDF service, and
some members recommending that she be released from her obligation.
But in response to questions from the Post, the IDF revealed Sunday
night that "the Exemptions Committee decided to grant her the draft
exemption that she seeks."
The IDF noted that "Fanny Yitzhak did not normalize her status as
required before beginning national service, leading to her being listed
with the Manpower Division as a deserter."