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February 11, 2020 3:38 pm

Stats Reveal High IDF Dropout Rate for Traumatized Sderot Youth

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

An Israeli man takes cover as a siren warning of incoming rockets sounds in Sderot, southern Israel, Nov. 12, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad.

The extent of the trauma caused by rocket attacks on Sderot over the past two decades is demonstrated by the high rate of the southern Israeli city’s residents who do not finish their army service, mainly due to post-traumatic stress, Israeli media outlets reported on Tuesday.

According to Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, statistics from the IDF’s Manpower Directorate show that 28% of inductees from Sderot end their army service early.

This week, Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi met with Maj. Gen. Moti Almoz, the commander of the Directorate, and Brig. Gen. Amir Vadmani, the head of the Directorate’s Planning and Research Department, to discuss the issue.

One of the points raised was that young recruits from Sderot have lived all their lives under threatening security conditions, including frequent rocket attacks.

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Professional analysts have pointed to this situation and the ongoing trauma it causes as a factor in the Sderot residents’ high army dropout rate, even though they often have great motivation to serve their country.

Some of these recruits are officially listed as “at-risk children” and entities that treat such cases are aware of the problem.

Davidi asked the military officials during the meeting to provide real-time information on recruits showing signs of trauma so that the local authorities could work with the army to treat them.

The meeting also discussed collaborating with high school teachers to spot potential problems and the creation of pre-military programs intended to mitigate the effects of trauma.

Almoz and Vadmani told the mayor that the IDF was working to do so, and would also send soldiers and officers to Sderot schools to impart their own experience, along with efforts to maintain connections between army representatives and the municipality.

Following the meeting, Davidi said, “I thank the chief of staff and the head of the Manpower Directorate for their willingness to come visit us in order to learn about our needs and the challenges that face us.”

“I am convinced that now, as we set out on a shared path, we will aid our wonderful young men and women to start on their mission for meaningful army service and accompany them through the entire process, with all the complications in their lives from living in a city that has been under terror attack for 20 years,” he added.

Almoz commented, “We will take action soon to increase the motivation for meaningful service in the city of Sderot. I thank the mayor and his staff for their great willingness to be partners in advancing the children of Sderot in the IDF and for our collaboration going forward.”

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