Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported on its website on Thursday that the Israeli Military Police have started a widespread campaign to catch the increasing numbers of draft dodgers, young Israeli people who avoid military service. This campaign will carry on for two weeks in order to arrest hundreds of them and bring them to trial.The website reported that official data of the Israeli army states that the number of young people who avoid being drafted into military service is increasing. In 2010, there were 1,800 while this number has risen to 2,700 in 2011. According to the data published by the site, 800 young women were able to avoid military service by submitting false reports that they qualify for exclusion for religious reasons were caught after investigating social media sites.
Yedioth Ahronoth added that the Israeli army had a similar campaign last year but it had to be stopped because of the shortage of space in prisons and detention centers. However this year the army has built additional prison space where they can imprison draft dodgers for 28 days, and have also released hundreds of people imprisoned last year for avoiding military service. In addition, the Israeli army is planning to build an extra military detention center for this purpose near the village of Ben Nibala, west of Ramallah, which will be capable of holding 1,200 detainees.
The Israeli military has approximately 175,000 staff with a further 450,000 reservists. Draft dodging is not a new problem. In Jan 2010, Yedioth Ahronoth reported that the Head of the IDF Personnel Directorate, Major-General Avi Zamir, visited an Ashdod high school as part of a military programme to reintroduce military values to Israeli youth.
Zamir, who focused on the rising numbers of draft dodgers, warned that the coming decade may see up to 40% of Jewish teenager evade military service. The situation, he added, could turn even worse: ‘Taking into consideration Israeli Arab youth, we are facing a situation in which 70% of young people will not enlist in the military for national service.”