December 4, 2009

Israel gets tough on women draft-avoiders

by Sara Levy

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is set to crackdown on women who falsely claim to be religious to escape compulsory army service.

It is compulsory for all non-Arab Israeli men to serve three years in the IDF at age 18, and for women to serve two years.

A growing number of secular girls and women in Israel are evading service in the IDF by claiming to be religious.

To combat the trend, Israel’s Ministerial Committee has approved a bill advising the IDF to keep close surveillance on all prospective recruits who cite religion as a reason to not complete their service.

The legislation needs to be approved by the Knesset, the legislative branch of the Israeli government, before it becomes law.

If approved, the bill would allow the IDF to immediately enlist women found to have made false claims of religiosity.

Previously, women who were believed to have made false claims to avoid service had to be taken to court.

Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Shas party is expected to appeal the bill on the grounds that it may “hurt the status of many girls, even if they meet the necessary conditions for the exemption.”

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