Male mandatory army service will be cut by 4 months beginning July 2015, the head of the IDF Personnel Directorate said Wednesday while touring the army’s induction center.
Speaking to reporters at the base, Maj. Gen. Hagai Topolansky said recruits will now serve a total of 32 months, adding that he will also seek to extend female conscripts’ service in an effort to increase gender equality.
He did not mention specific plans or dates in his efforts to change the current female service period.
The army is still evaluating how to handle the personnel cuts, raising concerns mainly in regard to professions requiring long training periods. Soldiers serving in elite combat units will likely be required to sign on for an additional 4 months, during which they will receive higher salaries.
“We strive for equality in our sorting process,” Topolansky told Hebrew media outlet Ma’ariv, adding that 92% of professions in the IDF are open to female conscripts.
According to the general, there are over 2,000 female combat soldiers in service, and he hopes to see the numbers go up.
Addressing the highly controversial draft of ultra-Orthodox Israelis, Topolansky told reporters the service cuts amplify the importance of enlisting soldiers from all sections of society. He added that 2,800 haredi soldiers are expected to join the 3,600 currently serving.
Following up on Monday’s joint Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense subcommittees meeting discussing conscript soldiers’ salaries, which haven’t been raised in years, Topolansky said the army is working to increase pay to a level with which soldiers can “live honorably.”
Soldiers in their mandatory service currently receive a monthly allowance that ranges between NIS 433 and NIS 863 (about $120-230), depending on the level of risk they are exposed to.
National military service is mandatory for all Israeli citizens over the age of 18, although exemptions may be made on religious, physical or psychological grounds. Currently, men serve three years, while women serve for two. Some 42% of women currently do not serve, many citing religious observance.