Religious girls protest pressure to join Israeli army


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Dozens of girls attending national-religious high schools in Israel have joined a campaign to protest what they say is pressure from the Education Ministry to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces.

The campaign is organized by the conservative religious organization Chotam in reaction to a ministry proposal by the Education Ministry to fund groups that guide religious women who want to join the military rather than perform national service. The number of young religious women entering the Israeli military has risen exponentially in recent years.

The girls are being photographed holding handwritten messages.

“Don’t interfere with our education. We believe in national service,” the signs read.

The girls say they have been pressured at school to join the IDF, Ynet reported.

Many high-profile national-religious rabbis have criticized young religious women who decide to enter the IDF.

High school graduates who show that they are religiously observant can be excused from military service. Most perform one or two years of national service, in which they are placed in positions in schools, hospitals and other civilian programs.

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