IDF notes 'more motivation to join combat units'

As August draft begins, IDF says increase result of Cast Lead; draft-dodging rate remains 25%.

IDF gaza 248.88 CHECK CAPTION (photo credit: AP)
(photo credit: AP)
Amid growing efforts to curb the rising numbers of draft dodgers, the IDF on Wednesday noted a slight increase in motivation among youth to serve in combat units. The IDF started the August draft on Sunday. It will continue throughout next week, sending new recruits to almost all IDF field units. The draft-dodging numbers remained the same, with close to 25 percent of youth born in 1990 not enlisting - some dodging the draft, and others not serving due to religious and medical exemptions. But a total of 71.5% of the youths requested to serve in a combat unit ahead of the August draft. That compares favorably to 67.6% who asked for combat units in the draft last summer. Sources in the IDF Manpower Division said that the increase was a result of Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip earlier this year. "The youth saw the combat units - infantry, armored, engineering and artillery - in action during the Gaza operation," one source said. "This contributes to the draw to these units." The biggest surprise of the draft was the Artillery Corps, which succeeded in doubling requests to serve in its units. In 2008, there were 0.6 recruits "competing" for each spot. In this week's draft there was 1 recruit for every spot. The Armored Corps also noted a sharp increase, with 0.9 recruits "competing" for each spot in comparison to 0.4 in 2008. In the infantry brigades, Golani was in first place, with 4.8 recruits competing for every available spot. Givati overtook Nahal for the first time in history, with 4 recruits competing for every spot in comparison to 2.5 in Nahal. The Kfir Brigade lagged far behind with 1.7 recruits. Givati's high showing was the result, sources in the brigade said, of the unprecedented exposure it received during Operation Cast Lead. Then, under the command of Col. Ilan Malka, the Givati Brigade took over two 15-story buildings in search of Hamas operatives in the Tel el-Hawa neighborhood in Gaza City. The operation was the deepest push the IDF made into Gaza City and put soldiers just 500 meters away from the home of senior Hamas leader Mahmoud A-Zahar. During the raid, troops from the Givati Reconnaissance Battalion killed over 40 Palestinian gunmen.