In Israel, military service is compulsory for all: both women and men. Everyone, without exception, must fulfill their duty to the country, including athletes.
Thus, citizens and permanent residents of Israel begin to be called to recruitment commissions from the age of 16 years and 4 months onwards. Then they enter the barracks.
A service for all
All able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 29 and women between the ages of 18 and 25 are eligible for military service. Anyone who fails to complete their duty on time is prosecuted by law and, at the discretion of the military authorities, may be withdrawn from military service at a later stage .
The barracks for men is 2.5 years and for women – 2 years. Exempted are women who have already married, as well as those with deep religious convictions. Alternative service is planned for them – in hospitals, educational institutions, voluntary organizations, etc. Men, on the other hand, can be exempted from military service for health reasons.
After finishing high school, boys are allowed to go to university first, and then enter the barracks. But most do their military service first, and then study, since graduates serve 3 years, not 2.5. During this period, the state pays the soldiers a salary, they enjoy annual leave and are given funds for a wedding ceremony if they decide to get married.
Service in the army for people who devote their lives to professional sports is practically no different from that of others. Athletes serve 2.5 or 2 years depending on gender.
But still, there are some special benefits for them.
There are three categories of athletes in Israel: active, leading and exceptional. The latter, of course, are not many at all. And the terms and conditions of service for each of these categories are clearly spelled out. The status is determined by a sports committee based on the achievements of the recruit. After its determination, each competitor must submit documents to his federation up to 8 months before entering the barracks.
The main difference between the conditions in the military for active and outstanding athletes is the number of hours they must spend on the military base per day. Active athletes serve two full days a week and three additional 6-hour days. The presenters spend six hours a week at the base, and the barracks must be located no more than 60 kilometers from the training base where the athlete is preparing.
The experience of Olympic champions
The majority of Israeli athletes are happy to call off their service and often even manage to win medals while still in the ranks of the army. Such is the case of Olympic rhythmic gymnastics champion Lina Ashram. At the World Championships in 2018, the athlete won three medals, and 30 hours later she was already in her liaison division.
She was given a memorable reception after the planet’s championship triumph – with flowers, cheers and a banner that read: “Congratulations to Corporal Lina Ashram on her achievements at the World Championships.”
“I believe that everyone should go through the army,” the champion told israelhayom.com. who have recently joined the unit, and I feel like I haven’t been there in a year. It’s quite strange.”
In 2019, the athlete stopped her military service and entered university. And her compatriot Nicole Zelikman joined the army on the eve of the Olympic Games in Tokyo. However, she managed to pass the mandatory three weeks before the “oath”, when it is forbidden to leave the base, then prepare and participate in the Games in the Japanese capital.