Rise in settlers taking army combat roles 19Nov11 November 19, 2011

Ma’an News Agency  -  18 November 2011

JERUSALEM (AFP) — Six out of 10 Jewish settlers were drafted into combat units for their compulsory military service, an Israeli army study showed on Friday, indicating a sharp rise in numbers.

According to a study on draft trends which was published by the military’s personnel division, Jewish settlers are more likely than regular Israelis to try to join combat units.

Figures in the report show that 61 percent of the 310,000 Israelis who live in the West Bank people spent their military service in combat units, compared with 44.2 percent among the rest of the population.

Last year, only 45.8 percent of settlers signed up for a fighter unit, the study showed.

The report also confirmed a rise in the number of young people not doing their compulsory military service, in a development viewed by the army as worrying.

In 2011, only 67 percent of those expected to enlist entered the military, compared to 74.7 percent in 1990.

Should the trend continue, only around 40 percent of Israelis will be carrying out their compulsory military service by 2020 — a projection which is causing concern within the military.

Israel’s Palestinian minority, which makes up 20 percent of the population, does not serve in the army, while ultra-Orthodox Jewish men are also exempted in order to pursue their religious studies.

Army officials believe the problem of recruitment is likely to increase due to the growth of the ultra-Orthodox population and the fall in overall Jewish immigration.

Military service is compulsory for Israelis over the age of 18, with men serving three years and women two years.

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