TEL AVIV (Sep. 5)
A draft-dodging ring involving high-ranking Israel Defense Force officers was broken up Monday with the arrest of 16 soldiers and civilians.
Eight IDF officers, including one or two with the rank of lieutenant colonel and several majors, were taken into custody by military police. Eight civilians, at least one of them a medical doctor, were arrested by civilian police at the same time.
The arrests sent shock waves through the army and public. Additional arrests are expected shortly.
The accused face charges of accepting bribes from persons who wanted to avoid regular or reserve military duty, which is compulsory in Israel.
The chief of military police, Brig. Gen. Emile Elimelech, declined to give details of the case during an interview on the IDF educational television program Monday evening.
He said the IDF started to investigate rumors of the ring six months ago. When it was determined that civilians also were involved, the police criminal investigation department was called in.
Elimelech said only a “few score” people were involved. They learned by word of mouth whom they could approach to avoid military service. He said the army officers and physicians who participated in the ring were paid “considerable sums” for their illegal services.
The IDF manpower branch described the suspected officers and soldiers as “a few rotten apples who must be eliminated.”
It said that anyone found to have been excused from serving by bribery or corruption will be called up immediately for army duty.