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Women Soldiers to Receive Protection

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The army said today that it will provide escorts for women soldiers traveling at night to their homes in outlying areas as protection against rapists. A military spokesman informed a special Knesset committee on rape that the army was also broadening its educational program to warn women soldiers of the dangers of hitching rides from strangers on the roads.

Meanwhile, the government is taking steps to comply with the demands of its Agudat Israel coalition partners to make it easier for women to claim exemption from military service on grounds of religion. Deputy Defense Minister Mordechai Zippori told the Knesset yesterday that a new law easing the drafting of women would be submitted within two weeks. Until then, the drafting of women who claim to be religious has been suspended.

Although male yeshiva students and religious females have always been exempted from national military service, the Aguda complained that local draft boards were too zealous in demanding proof that a woman claiming exemption on religious grounds was, indeed, observant. The Likud coalition agreement with the Aguda promised that here-after the woman’s word will be sufficient to allow exemption.

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