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Cutting compulsory military service in Israel would be 'disastrous', say senior officers

Thousands of Ultra-Orthodox Jews stage a demonstration against the forced military service policy of the Israeli army in front of Israel Embassy in New York, United States on 26 June 2019. [Atılgan Özdil - Anadolu Agency]
Thousands of Ultra-Orthodox Jews stage a demonstration against the forced military service policy of the Israeli army in front of Israel Embassy in New York, United States on 26 June 2019. [Atılgan Özdil - Anadolu Agency]

Senior officers in the Israel Defence Forces and security agencies have called on the politicians to cancel the decision to shorten compulsory military service in Israel to 30 months, Shehab news agency has reported. Such a cut, say the officers, would be "disastrous". The current length of standard national service is 32 months.

Professor Efraim Inbar of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security pointed out that the service was cut from three years to 32 months in 2015. The latest decision was apparently taken in December, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"This will have a negative impact on the military performance of the soldiers and affect their ability to deal with challenges," the security and army chiefs told Army Radio. They added that the Israeli army is already facing an "unprecedented" problem related to the lack of desire to serve in combat units.

"A modern army demands skills that take longer to acquire than army professions did in the past. This is true for combat units, and even more so for units in which the technology element requires lengthy study and training," explained Inbar. "However, functionaries at the finance ministry argued that less time in the army meant that young workers would be available [in the jobs market] sooner, and help narrow the gap between those who serve and those who are exempt from service."

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