Infant at Army Base Leads IDF to Weigh Paternity Leave Policy

The Israel Defense Force is examining the issue of paternity leave after a reserve officer showed up at his army base with his 4-month-old son.

Ariel Cohen had tried unsuccessfully to get an exemption for his reserve duty before reporting to the army base, according to news reports.

Cohen had taken a year’s leave of absence from his job to care for his son, Avshalom, white his wife, a lawyer, worked outside the home.

When Cohen, a reserve captain, joined his unit his week with Avshalom in tow, the army gave him an immediate exemption.

The case, which has received a great deal of media coverage here, has focused new attention on the army’s policy toward new fathers.

“The army has no regulations regarding new fathers,” an IDF spokesman said in an interview. “Until now, every case has been handled on its own merits.”

The spokesman added that “hundreds of thousands of soldiers receive exemptions from reserve duty every year, and Mr. Cohen was no exception.”

He acknowledged that because of the publicity, “the IDF will look into the problem.”

Paternal exemptions “were never an issue before, since no one had made them an issue,” he added.

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