The IDF Cracking Down on Deserters


idffThe IDF this week sent text messages to the phones of 3,000 deserters, personnel absent without official leave (AWOL). They received a warning to come in and report as the military is embarking on an aggressive campaign to locate them. Simultaneously, the military is working with the Ministry of Justice to amend the law to permit stiffer sanctions against deserters. These sanctions would significantly impact one’s life, including a prohibition on getting a drivers license, or renew a teudat zehut identity card or passport. The ban will also extend to a gun license.

The Ynet report states the response to the SMS messages was impressive as many deserters contacted the IDF only a short time after the messages were sent. To be considered a “deserter”, one must be absent for a minimum of 21 day.

Previous legislation introduced by former MK Yoni Chetboun also prohibits a deserter from obtaining state funding for education. The new restrictions would also ban one from public office.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


  1. 1. Armies with a high rate of desertion (as defined in English law – for a soldier to run away) are usually armies that are collapsing. One doubts that the IDF is collapsing. If the article is using the work “desertion” correctly, there would be reason to doubt the veracity of the story.

    2. The Israelis consider one to be “in the army” from the moment one is required to report for military service (as opposed to the point where one actually reports for the military service and joins the army – the point you took the oath of loyalty at the enlistment/conscription office). Thus many of those the Israelis are calling “deserters” are actually those refusing to serve in the army (draft refusers and draft evaders), including many with political, moral and religious objects to serving in the army. That would suggest that conscription is breaking down – which can be easily remedied by replacing it with an incentive based system to join the army (as has been done in almost all democratic countries).