158 overseas volunteers to join IDF

Majority of the new recruits come from North America, followed by France.

158 volunteers from 18 different countries arrive in Israel to volunteer for the IDF  (photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
158 volunteers from 18 different countries arrive in Israel to volunteer for the IDF
(photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Some 158 youths from 18 countries arrived in Israel over the summer to volunteer for the IDF, the Defense Ministry’s Social Defense Branch announced Wednesday.
The new recruits include 120 males and 38 females, with most of the volunteers coming from the US (69 or 45%), and France (43 or 30%).
According to the Defense Ministry, the number of volunteers from Australia has “quadrupled” since last year with eight volunteers, and the number from Britain has doubled with 16 volunteers this year. Another four arrived from Canada, three from Belgium, and two each from Brazil, South Africa and India. Nine other countries are represented by a single volunteer.
Udi Dror, who heads the ministry’s division responsible for volunteers, said the majority of graduates from the program, which is in its 18th cycle, join combat units.
Congratulating the new recruits’ decision to join Israel’s military, he said the “unique program is gaining resonance and its influence is evident by the IDF absorbing the graduates.
We are making great efforts to strengthen the ties of Diaspora Jewry with the State of Israel, and to encourage their enlistment in the IDF and prepare them for a meaningful combat service.”
Ahead of their recruitment, the volunteers will undergo physical and mental preparation for their induction. This includes field trips throughout the country to heritage sites and museums, meetings with IDF officers, and Hebrew language classes.
The program will allow new recruits to learn about the IDF as well as the nature and conditions of their service, with an emphasis on their rights as individual soldiers.
According to the ministry’s statement, the IDF and the Defense Ministry’s Social Defense Branch decided four years ago to establish preparatory programs for new immigrants and foreign volunteers, as training was found to be critical for integrating new recruits into service and was even set as a condition for the recruitment of foreign volunteers.
Aliyah and Integration Minister MK Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beytenu) congratulated the new recruits, wishing them “a pleasant and meaningful service.”
“The decision to leave a comfortable life, family and friends and to come to Israel to enlist in the IDF is not obvious,” she said. “Your contribution to the State of Israel by increasing national strength is tremendous and admirable.”
Landver added that the ministry is “proud” to provide new recruits with an assistance package which they can use after they are released from the army.
“We at the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption will do everything to make you feel at home here,” Landver said.
During their service, lone soldiers are entitled to assistance from the state, including monthly living stipends, discounts on electricity bills, exemption from municipal taxes, rental assistance or lodging provided by the Aguda Lema’an Hachayal (Soldier’s Welfare Association) and extra financial support for combat soldiers.
Once they complete their military service, lone soldiers receive NIS 12,000 from the army over the course of a year, the option to live in a soldier’s residence (beit hachayal) for three months, and preparation and financial help to complete matriculation and psychometric exams.
But the annual State Comptroller’s Report released in March found that the IDF has not fully examined the needs of lone soldiers, with major deficiencies in terms of housing solutions, donations to the IDF for lone soldiers, ties between the IDF and nonprofit organizations and assistance given to lone soldiers following military release.
“After their release from military service, Israeli society faces a national mission to facilitate the integration of these lone soldiers into the civilian sphere,” the report reads. “It is therefore appropriate that inter-ministerial national staff, led by the Director-General of the Ministry of Defense... work to advance a strategic plan aimed at absorbing lone soldiers into society after their release.”