Number of overseas volunteers joining IDF rising, Israeli army says – i24news
At the end of 2014, there were 3,484 “lone soldiers” in the IDF, according to army figures
The number of overseas volunteers leaving their home countries in order to join the IDF is on the rise, recent Israeli military figures show.
At the end of 2014, there were 3,484 “lone soldiers” in the IDF, according to army figures, including non-Israelis who joined through a special program for volunteers who don’t have Israeli citizenship, Ha’aretz reported.
According to Nefesh B’Nefesh, an organization that works with Israeli immigrants, some 2,700 of these recruits are recent immigrants.
The IDF currently includes soldiers from more than 70 countries around the world, who serve various different units, from low-level office roles to top fighting units.
The United States is the most well represented country with over a quarter of these foreign recruits coming from America, according to the report.
“There’s no doubt that in the past two years we see a bigger increase than before,” a senior officer in the army’s Manpower Directorate told Ha’aretz.
“A friend brings a friend; these soldiers are our best ambassadors,” the senior officer said, referring to the trend of word-of-mouth recommendations when the lone soldiers go back home.
She also said that Israel’s increasing isolation and the perceived rise in global anti-Semitism is encouraging Jews around the world who love Israel to come help defend the Jewish state.
Last summer, a group of former lone soldiers, who served in Israel’s army despite not being Israeli citizens, fought to get back to the front lines in the midst of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.
Calling themselves the League of Lone Soldiers, a group of approximately 30 former soldiers tried to get attention for their cause by writing a public letter calling for them to be allowed to rejoin the army.
Lone soldiers currently do not serve as reservists and are blocked from re-joining the army.
Three of the IDF soldiers who were killed in the fighting between Israel and Hamas last summer were lone soldiers, 2 from the US and 1 from France.
The open letter the group wrote gained publicity as it mentioned how many Israeli soldiers who received the order to return to army reserves during the fighting in Gaza refused to do so.
Some of the soldiers went so far as to go to the Tel Hashomer army base and wait to be let in. After waiting outside for hours, the group encountered a high-ranking officer who allowed them into the base, only to be told by the officer in charge of reserves that there was no way they could let them return to serve in the reserves.