Settlements fail to make the grade on supplying combat conscripts to IDF
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Settlements fail to make the grade on supplying combat conscripts to IDF

7 of 10 high schools with highest contributions to the army's ranks of fighters and officers are religious

Israeli reserve soldiers take part in a training drill in Baf Lachish army base in southern Israel, December 22, 2016. (Maor Kinsbursky/Flash90)
Israeli reserve soldiers take part in a training drill in Baf Lachish army base in southern Israel, December 22, 2016. (Maor Kinsbursky/Flash90)

Religious high schools — but not necessarily those in settlements — are far more successful than secular ones in supplying combat conscripts and officers to the Israel Defense Forces, taking seven out of the top ten school spots in a ranking published Tuesday by the army.

Four of those schools are run by the Bnei Akiva movement.

But while the top school is located in the West Bank settlement of Sussiya in the south Hebron hills, most are within the Green Line.

Furthermore, out of all the regional councils in the top ten for both male and female conscripts, just one — Gush Etzion in 8th place — is located in the West Bank.

The data appears to conflict with the common assumption that West Bank settlements score highly when it comes to supplying the army with new combat recruits.

Soldiers from the IDF’s Kfir Brigade open fire on targets during a training exercise in the Jordan Valley on November 28, 2017. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

In a rundown of cities, the large settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, near Jerusalem, takes 13th place out of the 20 most successful suppliers of male fighters, with the rest of the cities being located within Israel’s pre-1967 borders.

When it comes to cities doing best for the female draft, the only West Bank city cited is Ariel, in 18th place.

The figures emerge from annual rankings carried out by the army’s personnel division into the local and regional councils, cities, and schools contributing the highest percentage of draftees to combat and officer positions.

Most of the cities at the top of the league for male and female conscripts are in the generally more affluent center of the country. Givat Shmuel leads for the men and Nes Ziona for the women.

Illustrative: Female soldiers of the Caracal Battalion, November 2007. (Yoni Markovitzki/IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)

The three biggest cities, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa are nowhere to be seen in the top 20.

Jerusalem is home to large numbers of ultra-Orthodox and Arab residents, who do not serve in the IDF. Haifa also has a significant Arab community.

On Sunday, the IDF revealed that it fell 20 percent short of the government’s goal for enlisting ultra-Orthodox conscripts.

This past year, though, the military saw a record-high 2,700 women joining combat units. This represents nearly a fivefold increase since 2012, when 547 women served in combat roles.

National military service is mandatory for all Israeli citizens, including the Druze and Bedouin, aged over 18. Arabs are exempted but can serve if they wish (very few do) and special arrangements exist for the ultra-Orthodox.

Men serve for 32 months, women for 24.

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