IDF dropout rates soar

One in six men and one in twelve women do not finish their mandatory service; 'emotional distress' a primary factor.

Tova Dvorin,

IDF soldiers (illustration)
IDF soldiers (illustration)
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

One in six male IDF soldiers and one in twelve female IDF soldiers will not complete their military service, the IDF's Manpower Directorate revealed Monday - and fewer young Israelis are enlisting at all. 

The IDF dropout rate for men in 2004 stood at 17.3%, decreased to 13.5% in 2009, and jumped back to 16.5% in 2014, it said. Among women, the dropout rates are much lower: 10.1% in 2004, 6.3% in 2008, and 8.5% in 2014. 

For both men and women, the prime factors behind dropouts are emotional. 1,451 male and 504 female soldiers soldiers dropped out of the IDF between January and June 2015 for emotional reasons; 560 males and 61 females were dishonorably discharged for bad behavior; 358 male and 134 female soldiers were discharged for physical handicaps; 62 male and 20 female soldiers were released for not fitting in to IDF life; and 85 male and 190 female soldiers were released for specific, other reasons not covered above. 

Maj. Iyar Segal, Health Officer for the IDF's Judea-Samaria Brigade, predicted in an article published in the Bitahon journal for the Ministry of Defense that the likelihood of dropouts in the IDF stands at about 14.5% for male soldiers and 6.5% for female soldiers.

Segal noted that the army is "weak" in addressing the problem, and suggested redefining the way the IDF uses the term "emotional distress" so that the term does not become overused and irrelevant.

She also proposed that officers be trained in how to handle soldiers' emotional issues, and called to reexamine the protocol to bring soldiers who threaten suicide for prosecution. 

The numbers raise questions about the effectiveness of the IDF draft, following an ongoing political discourse about the role of minorities in the IDF, the appropriateness of the haredi draft, and the effectiveness of the IDF in general. As of 2015, some 50% of Israeli citizens do not serve in the IDF at all; among them, 27% are minorities, 9% are men, and 14% are women. 




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