New Israeli Recruits Want Combat Duty

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Eight out of 10 new recruits who will begin the enlistment process in March want to serve in combat units - a 10 percent rise since 2007.

According to Israel Defense Forces data, motivation to serve in the IDF has risen steadily since the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and Operation Cast Lead, which lasted from December 2009 through January 2010.

"No doubt teens understand the need to be at the forefront," one officer said.

An unnamed military source told YNet news Israelis "should be proud" that so many youngsters want to serve as combatants.

"We do a lot to encourage enlistment in schools and other places," one officer said. "Commanders, including the chief of staff, talk to the students, which greatly enhances their desire to contribute."

"Teens realize that despite the relative calm, we are facing hard conflicts and they must be there," he said.

Most Israeli youth serve compulsory military duty right after high school graduation. Men serve a minimum of three years, followed by annual reserve duty until age 40. Women serve two years, but do not generally serve in the reserves. Some graduates choose National Service instead of military duty.

A disproportionate number of ultra-Orthodox youth are exempted from military service, enrolling instead in yeshivot - Torah seminaries. But increasing numbers of ultra-Orthodox men are choosing to serve in the IDF, which makes every effort to accommodate their religious needs.

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Ynet news contributed to this report.

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