IDF Draft Evasion – Legal Information
Evading the IDF draft is an annual occurrence for thousands of young Israelis living in Israel and abroad. Many are totally unaware of the fact that failure to arrange their legal status with the military authorities is a criminal offense that could lead to drawn-out imprisonment and even a criminal record to remain with them for many years. What can you do to avoid being accused of draft evasion facing consequences? An expert attorney from our office, who specializes in military law, provides a concise explanation in the brief article below.
Our law firm, based in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specializes in Israeli immigration law. The attorneys in our office provide legal help and support on a variety of issues such as arranging legal status in Israel with the military authorities, accompanying individuals in filing applications and proceedings to obtain an exemption from service in the IDF, representation in dealings with law enforcement authorities and military courts, etc.
R is a pastry-cook in her thirties who is a permanent resident in Israel. In June 2019, military policemen arrived at R’s home and arrested her on suspicion of draft evasion. R was completely taken aback by this event. She stated that the military authorities had never contacted her, so she believed she was not obliged to enlist into the IDF. She even traveled abroad and returned to Israel on a number of occasions without being arrested. She may well have believed that even if she had been considered a draft evader in the past, in view of the many years that had elapsed since she reached the draft age, military authorities lost interest in her.
The case described above is a genuine, real-life incident and it even gained coverage on Israel’s Channel 12 national news network. This is only one case out of thousands in Israel and abroad who are considered IDF draft evaders. This case clearly illustrates just how draft evasion remains an issue even after so many years if you do not deal with it and take the necessary action to arrange your status with the military authorities. It is highly advisable to deal with this issue as soon as possible to prevent the potentially severe consequences of draft evasion.
HOW TO AVOID BECOMING A DRAFT EVADER?
The law in Israel obliges Israeli citizens to join the IDF upon reaching the draft age. Whoever avoids taking the requisite action under the law and reporting for service, or alternatively does not arrange their legal status with the military authorities, may be regarded as a draft evader. Once an individual starts out on this path it’s only a matter of time before he becomes entangled in painful, complex legal procedures. Evading the draft into the IDF is a continuing criminal offense. In other words, it has no statute of limitations so long as this state of affairs remains unchanged. Draft evasion will even be considered more severe the longer the amount of time that has elapsed.
Avoiding becoming a draft evader is possible and highly advisable. There are numerous cases in which it is possible to obtain an exemption and put an end to the draft evasion without facing a criminal trial. In other cases, adopting the best practices to handle the situation can lead to the most lenient result possible. Having said that, the best way to avoid the harsh consequences of draft evasion is to take orderly, coordinated action with the IDF authorities responsible for the draft process.
DRAFT EVASION IS SOMETHING THAT CAN OCCUR BOTH AMONGST THOSE LIVING IN ISRAEL AND ISRAELIS RESIDENT ABROAD
Draft evasion means avoiding reporting for defense service. It can occur amongst Israelis living in Israel and amongst those obliged to enlist in the IDF who live abroad. However, there are differences between the two cases. While Israelis residing in Israel will harbor a constant fear of being arrested, Israelis abroad do not have to feel any tangible concern over being arrested for draft evasion while living overseas. Nevertheless, they may well be arrested on arrival in Israel.
Unfortunately, many Israeli citizens living abroad are not aware of this genuine danger – if they should decide to come to Israel, they could be arrested at the airport for draft evasion. Those who are aware of this situation usually avoid visiting Israel for many years due to fear of being arrested, and this in itself is a very difficult situation to live with.
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT THIS?
It is extremely important to take action as soon as possible in order to arrange your legal status with the military authorities. Often there are extenuating circumstances that could enable an individual to obtain exemption from military service or circumstances that might justify some degree of consideration from the military authorities. We should point out that nowadays, the IDF does demonstrate greater readiness than in the past to provide those considered to be draft evaders with various solutions. In the past, the IDF refused to engage in any dialog with draft evaders as long as they had not yet reported to the military authorities. In this respect, the current situation has really changed for the better.
Today, in certain cases, it is possible to approach the authorities and handle the issue before reporting for service and arranging legal status. As we have stated above, the crucial point here is that it is necessary to be proactive and deal with this issue so as to avoid having to contend with the potentially severe implications of draft evasion. It is essential to act in an orderly manner, based on understanding of the law and the legal status applying to you. If you are not sure of these issues and the potential options available to you, it is highly recommended to consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in the finer points of military law.
LEGAL CONSULTATION WITH AN ATTORNEY REGARDING IDF DRAFT EVASION
If you have any specific question or need to consult on the issue of IDF draft evasion and arranging your legal status with the military authorities, you are most welcome to contact our law office, which specializes in immigration to Israel and military law. Our attorneys have a wealth of experience in providing legal representation for Israeli citizens living both in Israel and abroad in arranging their legal status in Israel, helping them in their dealings with the IDF authorities, the conscription process and all the relevant military and civil legal authorities. You can contact us either by phone or email as listed below.