More than 150 foreign volunteers arrive to join IDF
A total of 379 recruits are enlisting as lone soldiers.
By ANNA AHRONHEIMUpdated: AUGUST 8, 2017 06:05
Some 153 youth from 12 countries arrived in Israel over the summer to volunteer to serve in the IDF.The new recruits, composed of 122 male and 31 female volunteers, will begin their service in the July-August drafting period.According to a statement released by the Defense Ministry’s Social Defense Branch on Sunday, for the first time there is a volunteer from Honduras and one from Thailand. Nearly half (45%) of the volunteers are from the US, another 38% came from France, and others from South Africa, Belgium, Mexico, Australia, Canada and Austria.Immigration and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beytenu) congratulated the new recruits, wishing them “a pleasant and challenging service. I am sure you will [serve] with the same motivation that motivated you to come here. We’ve prepared you for your military service, we will guide you through it, and we will also be there with you to prepare you for civilian life.“We are making great efforts to encourage the mobilization of Diaspora Jewry and prepare them for a meaningful and vital service. We are happy to see that each year there is a 5% increase in the number of volunteers from abroad and immigrants,” Landver added.The volunteers will have a preparatory program ahead of their recruitment, where they will undergo physical and mental preparation for their induction into the IDF, which includes field trips throughout the country, including to heritage sites and museums, meetings with IDF officers and Hebrew classes.According to the ministry’s statement, it was decided three years ago by the IDF and the Defense Ministry’s Social Defense Branch to establish preparatory programs for new immigrants and foreign volunteers. “These programs were found to be of critical value for integrating them into the service and were even defined as a condition for the recruitment of foreign volunteers,” it said.AdvertisementThe annual summer draft for all IDF units began on July 9 and will end on August 17, and IDF figures for this year’s summer draft show that over 10% of the new recruits were born outside Israel, the majority from France.A total of 379 recruits are enlisting in the July-August draft as lone soldiers, which means that they have no immediate family in Israel and are entitled to special benefits.During their service, lone soldiers are entitled to additional assistance from the state, including monthly living stipends, discounts on electricity bills, exemption from municipal taxes, rental assistance or lodging provided by the Association for the Well-being of Israel’s Soldiers, and extra financial support for combat soldiers.Once they complete their military service, lone soldiers receive a onetime lump sum of NIS 6,000, the option to live for three months in a Beit Hahayal (soldiers’ hostel), and preparation and financial help to complete their matriculation and psychometric exams.According to a 2016 report by the Knesset’s Research and Information Center, half of lone soldiers left Israel immediately after completing their military service. And of the half that stayed, one-third left shortly after.
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