Ashkenazi: Few will join IDF in 20 years

Ashkenazi Few will serv

soldiers golan heights 248.88 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
soldiers golan heights 248.88
(photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
Only a small minority will enlist in the IDF 20 years from now, warned IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi during a gathering of hundreds of high school principals in Jerusalem, headed by Education Minister Gidon Sa'ar. Touching on a growing cause for concern in Israeli society, Ashkenazi stated that despite the growing motivation among new recruits to serve in combat units, demographic shifts were causing the enlistment rate among Israeli youth to decrease. "Military service is necessary to our security and a guarantee for our continued existence, but if the trend of decreased enlistment and draft-dodging continues, within a decade we will see an army in which only a minority of teenagers serve," he said. While the IDF chief of staff cited demography as the reason for the decrease in enlistment, he did not shy away from criticizing those who do serve in the Israeli army. "There are soldiers who visit Jerusalem for the first time only during their army service ... there are soldiers who enlist in the IDF thinking we conquered Masada in the Six-Day War," he said. "That's not funny." Turning to the principals assembled, he urged them not only to encourage enlistment, but also to realize that the gaps in high-schoolers' education were manifesting themselves in their IDF service - and also later in life. In response to a question concerning the recruitment of Hesder yeshiva boys to the IDF in light of recent cases of insubordination, Ashkenazi stated that "the incidents marked the crossing of a red line which we cannot accept from right or left." However, he said, "religious youths are wonderful, and we must refrain from making generalizations."