The chief of the Israel Defense Forces responds to calls by hundreds of teenagers who have announced they will not serve in the military as protest against the government’s judicial overhaul push and Israel’s decades-long military rule over the West Bank.
“For the youth who are considering not enlisting, there is a clear statement: We will always live here, in the State of Israel. Because of this we must defend [it],” IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi says at a ceremony.
“Anyone who is considering not enlisting should ask themselves what would happen if everyone behaved like them,” Halevi continues.
“In days of controversy, however difficult they may be, one must not lose their direction. The IDF is the right place to be,” he says.
Halevi also says Israel must continue the so-called “people’s army” model — one in which all Israelis are meant to serve in the military — amid plans by the government to lower the age at which ultra-Orthodox men can gain permanent exemptions from drafting to the army.
“This is a model that requires drafting from as many parts of the Israeli population as possible. With the right adjustments, there is a place and a way to implement this in the developing Israeli society,” he says.
“Our position is clear, draft for all,” Halevi adds.