Whether a doctor can complete his or her military service as a doctor instead of as a combattant; whether he or she can avoid carrying weapons (2003-2004) [ISR43265.FE]

According to a 31 January 2003 report from War Resisters' International, Israeli "[m]ilitary service lasts for three years in the case of men, and 20-21 months in the case of women [but is] longer for officers and certain specialists, such as doctors and nurses."

On its Website regarding immigration to Israel, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) lists the conditions for military service for immigrants who are doctors or dentists, but it does not specify whether the same conditions apply to doctors and dentists born in Israel (10 Oct. 2004). According to JAFI, immigrant male doctors who are 32 years of age or under are conscripted for 18 months of service (Kokhaviv 16 Feb. 2003), before they "do regular reserve duty" (10 Oct. 2004). "Any doctor/dentist older than [32 years] will serve an initial 21 days and then do regular reserve duty" (JAFI 10 Oct. 2004). Any female doctor up to the age of 26 who immigrates to Israel will serve 18 months in the Israeli army (ibid.). For more information on the requirements for military service according a person's age when he or she immigrates to Israel and his or her family situation, please consult the JAFI Website at http://www.jafi.org.il/aliyah/english/article.aspx?id=630.

In an article posted on Kokhaviv, a site with articles addressing various subjects in various languages, a spokesperson for the Israeli army stated that doctors who immigrate to Israel can serve in the army as doctors only after they have received an Israeli medial licence and passed "army tests verifying their comprehensive medical knowledge and a basic command of the Hebrew language" (16 Feb. 2003). "All military doctors complete a fourteen-week professional medical officers' training course" (Kokhaviv 16 Feb. 2003). According to the Israeli army spokesperson, approximately 80 doctors complete this course every year in order to enter the army; nearly half of the graduates are new immigrants, while the other half are "Israelis who first attend university and then enter positions in the [army] utilizing their particular expertise" (ibid.).

A lawyer representing the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) provided the following information in correspondence sent to the Research Directorate on 5 January 2005. According to the lawyer, "the fact that an individual serves in the army as a doctor does not mean necessarily [that] he won't bear a weapon-it depends where he is serving." He also stated, however, that there is no official policy to manage cases of individuals-whether doctors or other soldiers-who request not to carry arms for ideological reasons. Nevertheless, "in certain occasions the 'conscious committee' tries to convince conscientious objectors who ask for discharge from service to serve in civilian place-without uniform[s] and without weapon[s]-but still formally as soldiers."

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). 5 January 2005. Correspondence from a lawyer.

The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI). 10 October 2004. Immigration and Absorption Department. "Army Service." http://www.jafi.org.il/aliyah/english/article.aspx?id=630 [Accessed 5 Jan. 2005]

Kokhaviv Publications. 16 February 2003. "New Immigrants: Doctors Under Fire." http://www.kokhavivpublications.com/2003/israel/02/0302161921.html [Accessed 5 Jan. 2005]

_____. 2003. "Kokhaviv Publications." http://www.kokhavivpublications.com/help/info/ [Accessed 5 Jan. 2005]

United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA). n.d. "Aliyah/Klita-Eligibility for Military Service." http://www.ujia.org.il/asp/aliyah_klita_sections.asp?id=34&back=The%20Army [Accessed 5 Jan. 2005]

War Resisters' International (WRI). 31 January 2003. "Conscientious Objection to Military Service in Israel: An Unrecognised Human Rights." http://www.wri-irg.org/co/co-isr-03.htm [Accessed 4 Jan. 2005]

Additional Sources Consulted

Neither the Embassy of Israel in Ottawa nor the Israel Medical Association was able to respond to a request for information from the Research Directorate within the time constraints for this Response.

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International (AI), Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO), European Country of Origin Information Network (ECOI), Haaretz, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), United States Department of State, World News Connection (WNC).

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