Hareidi IDF recruitment is on the rise, a top military official revealed to Walla! News Wednesday - with 13.5% of soldiers now hareidi, up from 8.7% in 2004.
Unsurprisingly, IDF recruitment is still the lowest nationwide in hareidi cities, the senior official from the IDF's Manpower Division told the daily. Just 10.4% of men and women eligible for the draft in Modi'in Illit (Kiryat Sefer) serve in the IDF, followed by recruitment rates of 11.4% in Beitar Illit, 13.3% in Bnei Brak, 35.7% in Elad, and 41.1% in Jerusalem.
According to the officer, more and more hareidi draftees seek exemption from military service on medical grounds, compared to the normal exemption request due to religious reasons. That may likely be a reaction to new legislation ending the exemption of hareidi yeshiva students from IDF service on religious grounds.
While just 6.1% of applicants were exempt from military service on medical grounds in 2004, 7.3% were exempted on those grounds in 2014.
The officer also brushed off the suggestion of establishing a special hareidi track for an officers' course at Training Camp 1, saying "anyone who wants to become an officer should leave the hareidi track [in the IDF]."
He clarified by noting that all officers must train with both male and female units - something most hareidi recruits would seek to avoid.
On the other end of the spectrum, Yokneam Illit tops the percentage for IDF soldiers, with 93.3% of young men and women serving in the IDF today - followed by Nes Tziona at 91.4%, and Hod Hasharon at 91.2%.
Hod Hasharon is the top-ranking city for women's service in the IDF, with 87.7% of women serving, followed by Giva'taim (85.5%), Nes Tziona (84.5%), Eilat and Ramat Hasharon (both 84.4%).
Overall, only 50% of Israel's citizens enlist in military service in total. 37% of the new recruits are Jewish men, 39% are Jewish women and the remaining 24% are minorities (e.g. Druze) - women and men equally.
Of those who don't enlist, most were women opting out for religious reasons (35%), 24% were minorities, and 4% were hareidi.