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86 IDF draftees jailed for refusing to join Armored Corps

Soldiers given sentences ranging from 4 to 20 days for unprecedented protest against their assignment to unpopular heavy infantry units

Israeli soldiers stand guard with their tank along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip near the southern Israeli kibbutz of Nahal Oz on May 4, 2016. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)
Israeli soldiers stand guard with their tank along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip near the southern Israeli kibbutz of Nahal Oz on May 4, 2016. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)

Dozens of newly conscripted Israel Defense Forces soldiers were spending time behind bars this week after refusing to enlist in various combat units of the Armored Corps division to which they were assigned.

Since the beginning of the week, 86 out of 200 soldiers who were assigned to the heavy infantry units refused to board the buses to their bases after induction, according to a Channel 2 report.

Around half of them were sent to the detention facility at the induction center, and the other half were sent to various military prisons. The soldiers were sentenced terms ranging from 4 to 20 days for refusing to obey orders.

The TV report said the number of refusals and the jail sentences handed to the soldiers was unprecedented for the IDF.

In recent years, the Armored Corps has become one of the least popular units for new recruits.

Female soldiers train in the Negev desert (illustrative photo credit: Gili Yaari / Flash90)
Female soldiers train in the Negev desert (illustrative photo credit: Gili Yaari / Flash90)

In 2016, just 0.7 percent of newly drafted soldiers requested a spot in the tank brigades, head of the Armored Corps Brig. Gen. Guy Hasson told the Times of Israel earlier this month.

The IDF is currently reviewing the possibility of women soldiers serving in the Armored Corps’ tank brigades.

According to Brig. Gen. Eran Shani, the head of the army’s Human Resource Planning and Management Department, opening additional positions to women in the Armored Corps could further increase the motivation for them to serve in combat units and relieve some of the burden on male soldiers.

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