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Can You Postpone IDF Service? Legal Answer

Joshua Pex
Joshua Pex

TarcisioePotira Freitas

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Many have left Israel to immigrate to other countries or to serve as diplomats of the State, bringing their children along with them or giving birth to them while living abroad. However, leaving Israel does not necessarily mean leaving behind your obligation to serve in its defense – an obligation that these children are still bound to. But can those children postpone IDF service?

Every Israeli citizen is required to serve, even if you have immigrated with your parents to other countries as a child. You will still be required to register with the IDF at the Israeli consulate nearest you. However, if you have the legal status of a “child of immigrants” you may be able to postpone that service for a time. In some cases exemption is a possibility, but it is important to be clear on your status so as not to be considered a draft-evader, which our legal team at our law firm, can advise you in.

Nevertheless, in many cases exemption is not an option, rather only a postponement for a time. You can postpone until after your studies, whether high school or higher academics. However, after your studies conclude, you must then return to Israel for your service, which is often times greatly reduced. Can you postpone IDF service?

Children of Immigrants may postpone IDF service

Do you fall under the legal status of a “child of immigrants”?  A “child of immigrants” is a person who was born to Israeli parents outside of Israel, or who left Israel with their parents before the age of 16. This status is not necessarily permanent, and can be lost under certain conditions. 

If your parents are living separately, and one of your parents is living in Israel, you must prove that you are in the custody of the parent living abroad in order to retain the “child of immigrants” status. However, if both parents have returned to Israel and are living there full time, you can no longer be considered a “child of immigrants.” You must then return to fulfill your service in the IDF.

Losing Status of Child of Immigrants (in Hebrew – Ben Mehagrim) 

One can also lose their status as “child of immigrants” if their visit to Israel exceeds an accumulated 120 days for each calendar year. There is a “year of stay” granted to children of immigrants, which can be used one-time only while still retaining their legal status. The “year of stay” is a consecutive stay of 121-365 days from the date of entry into Israel. However, in order for this residency year to be valid without negating the status of “child of immigrants,” the person must not have been to Israel 60 days prior to his or her arrival, and they must not return to Israel for 60 days after departing.

Apart from these conditions, the child of immigrants must still return to serve in the IDF, after their reasons for postponement are no longer existent. Under this status, their service is reduced, and in certain cases they become exempt altogether. To see the service length requirements based on age of arrival in Israel, see the table from the IDF’s website here.

We Can Always Help- Israeli lawyers

If you have questions about your status as a “child of immigrants”, or need help determining course of action in regards to returning to Israel and fulfilling or postponing your IDF service, we will be happy to assist.

Contact our law office in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to receive legal assistance in connection with the Israeli draft abroad and to help clear your status with the IDF.

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