Policy change exempts older immigrants from Israeli military service

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — New immigrants to Israel ages 22 to 26 will no longer be drafted into the Israel Defense Forces.

Prior to the change announced in the Knesset on Monday, new immigrants were required to serve at least six months in the military. Women were exempted if they immigrated after age 20.

The new immigrant men can volunteer to serve, the Times of Israel reported, citing Lt. Col. Nimrod Arzuan, deputy commander of the IDF’s enlistment unit. Arzuan said the new policy is meant to encourage immigration to Israel, or aliyah.

Army service, which is compulsory for Israelis, is often seen as a way to help new immigrants integrate into Israeli society. But it has also proven an obstacle for those anxious to start a job or attend university.

Men who immigrate to Israel at ages 18 and 19 will still serve the required 32 months and women 24 months. Immigrant men ages 20 and 21 will serve for 24 months, and women for one year.