Record numbers avoid Israeli draft

One in four Israeli men eligible for army service eludes conscription, new data show.

According to draft figures released this week by the Israel Defense Forces, 25 percent of Jewish Israeli men do not serve in Israel’s mandatory military service – a record high. Almost half secure exemptions as yeshiva students. The others are excused due to mental or physical illness, criminal backgrounds or because they are living abroad. The rate of non-service among Jewish women of military age is even higher, 42 percent, largely due to recent cutbacks in clerical roles in the military.

“This is a very grave problem which points to a deep crisis in Israeli society,” Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i told Israel Army Radio.

Some security experts speculated that Israel will have no choice but to turn its conscript military into a professional fighting force that enlists troops for long-term careers.

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