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Israeli military official warns of decreasing numbers of recruits

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(source: Middle East Monitor)

An Israeli military official has spoken about the challenges will face their armed forces stressing that in the coming years, there will be an increase in the numbers of Israelis not serving in the army.

Earlier media reports have revealed the concerns of military officials over the possibility of facing shortages in the number of individuals who will serve in the Israeli army in the future. The outgoing IDF Personnel Branch Chief, Major General Avi Zamir, stated that less than 50% of Israelis of military service age (18 to 45) are in the army’s order of battle, and no more than 20% are on reserve duty.

Zamir spoke at the Caesarea Economic Policy Planning Forum of the Israel Democracy Institute on Sunday, June 19. He presented statistics on the IDF and addressed the ‘people’s army’ model of military service that depends on compulsory recruitment, with the rest of citizens on reserve duty; this model is considered by Israeli experts to be more suitable from an economic perspective.

According to Israeli media, Zamir is concerned that the make-up of the IDF’s reserves is changing due to a number of demographic factors. Conservative Jews belonging to the Haredi sector will constitute around 30% of first-grade soldiers in 2015, although 13% of military age men avoid military service because they are Haredi.

According to Israeli media outlets, Zamir also noted that in 2015, 29% of military age citizens will be 1948 Arabs, who do not serve in the Israeli army; 5% will be abroad and 15% will not complete full militaryservice. He concluded that 50-60% of military service aged men will either be exempt from service or serve an incomplete term in the military.

In early 2011, the Israeli government approved a plan to fund new programs aimed at encouraging conservative Jews – most of whom avoid military service on religious grounds – to serve in the IDF, or under the so-called alternative service, which is acknowledged by the Israeli army.Also, new recruits – especially those coming from Ethiopia – are encouraged to join the military service and observers have noted a rise in their numbers in the IDF.