JERUSALEM, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Dropping birth rates and slowing immigration may cause the Israeli army to draft fewer new soldiers this year, a report says.
The decline, the biggest in 20 years, is also reflected in the increasing number of exemptions from army service, Ynetnews reported Friday.
Data compiled by Yedioth Ahronoth indicated about 26 percent of Israelis eligible for army service won't be drafted. Another 13.5 percent are exempted for religious reasons and 4 percent for mental reasons. Health conditions have absolved 2 percent from service and 3 percent are ineligible due to criminal backgrounds, while 3 percent reside abroad.
The Manpower Directorate of the Israeli army expects those numbers to rise, reducing the number of people who can be drafted, unless legislators approve the drafting of members of ultra-Orthodox groups who are customarily exempt from military service.
The army also plans to draft more women and place them in technological roles.
Because of a shortage of women who can meet the criteria for such roles, the Israeli army has begun a campaign encouraging high school girls to take technology, physics or computer science classes.