Army to crack down on draft dodgers

Soldiers discharged from combat units to recieve benefits such as free tuition.

IDF soldier (photo credit: AP [Illustrative photo])
IDF soldier
(photo credit: AP [Illustrative photo])
In an effort to curb the growing number of youth who evade military service, the IDF Human Resources Department supports passing legislation that will deny draft dodgers state-provided benefits, a senior officer said Thursday. "The draft dodgers need to be made to feel like second-class citizens," the top officer told The Jerusalem Post. "Our plan is to reward those who serve and publicly denounce those who don't. We need to make the dodgers feel like second-class citizens and that can be done by taking away some of their benefits." According to the plan being drafted by OC Human Resources Maj.-Gen. Elazar Stern and Col. Ziki Sela, head of the department's Planning Division, the military will begin to offer a number of financial incentives for soldiers who serve a full military term. One such benefit under consideration is granting soldiers who serve three years in combat units, free university tuition for their entire degree, not like today for one year. Other incentives include free public transportation for a specific period even after the soldiers are released from the army. "The rewards cannot only be financial but also need to provide incentives for youth to join the army when they are considering enlisting or not," the officer said, adding that the incentives and benefits would only be available to people who served in the IDF. Ahead of the August draft last week, the IDF reported an increase in the number of teenagers dodging military service. The total reaches 25 percent of youth born in 1989 and scheduled to enlist in the IDF this summer. Of the 25%, some 11% received exemptions this year on grounds of being ultra-Orthodox, an increase of 1% over last year. Seven percent did not enlist for medical reasons, including physical and mental conditions. According to the officer, the IDF was considering launching a massive publicity campaign to promote military service and at the same time blast those who evade it. The officer said that the Human Resources Department was in touch with a large number of public figures - including academics and artists - who have voiced their support and willingness to participate in such a campaign.