As of July 1, soldiers in the Israeli army will have a tougher time getting permission to grow beards.
Beards will be allowed in only three cases: for religious reasons (after soldiers meet stricter criteria than previously), for medical reasons, or on an exceptional case-by-case basis, each case to be decided by officers in the IDF Manpower Department.
“We want to put an end to cases in which soldiers received permission to grow beards for religious reasons, but walked around smoking on Saturdays, or drove,” an officer from the Manpower Department told Ynet. (Observant Jews do not smoke or drive on the Sabbath, in accordance with Jewish religious law.)
Until now, commanding officers of the rank of colonel were authorized to give beard permits to soldiers, whether for religious reasons or based on the soldier’s own wish to grow a beard. But this policy led to lack of uniformity in the ranks and an increase in the number of bearded troops.
There will be an adjustment period until the end of August to allow soldiers to get used to the new order, which applies to regular troops and career soldiers alike. After that, soldiers who had previously received permission to grow beards for religious reasons will have to reapply.
Enforcement of the new regulation will be entrusted to the master sergeants of each unit until September 1. After that date, the military police will be in charge of enforcing it. Violations could result in fines and stricter penalties, such as confinement to base.