Only 71.6 percent of young Israelis who are fit for combat service upon beginning their mandatory military service seek entry into combat units, according to figures from the Israel Defense Forces Manpower Directorate. The figure is the lowest since August 2009, when the number stood at 71.5%.
In November 2008 the low motivation to serve as combat soldiers was attributed to the public mood following the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006, when only 67.2% of eligible recruits expressed a desire to serve in combat roles.
Since then, however, most draft classes have exhibited a gradual rise in motivation to serve in combat units.
The 70% threshold was crossed in March 2009, when 73.3% of eligible recruits asked to serve as fighters. In March 2010, this figure rose to 75.8% , and in March 2011 it reached a record high of 79.5%.
A year later, in March 2012, the number fell to 72.4%, pointing to a drop in motivation, and this year it fell further, to 71.6%.
Meanwhile, the March 2013 draft class for field units entered the IDF on Sunday. According to the IDF, about half the new combat recruits expressed a desire to serve in one of the army's infantry brigades. According to the IDF, 97% of the new recruits were successfully placed in one of their top three preferences.
The head of the IDF Manpower Directorate, Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai, said, "The decrease in the scope of new recruits every year, alongside the needs of combat and technological units, obligates us to allocate recruits to all of the destinations in a manner that ensures that the IDF will meet its short- and long-term goals."