To compensate for young Israelis’ alienation from Tsahal, the Netanyahu Government has decided to replace them with non-Israeli Jews.

A Defence Ministry screen organisation, Aish Machal, has launched a vast recruitment programme through Jewish youth organisations in the Diaspora.

The volunteers are incorporated for one year. Those who are not fluent in Hebrew have to follow a preliminary six-week course, mixing military drilling with language training.

Enrollment of non-Israeli soldiers was common in the first years following the creation of the Israeli State, but it was conceived as an emergency measure prior to naturalisation. It is no longer the case today; recruits are requested to return to their home country without acquiring Israeli nationality.

This practice raises several legal questions, as regards youth who will be enlisted in a military effort, even as combatants, against allies of their own country; or in respect of possible legal proceedings initiated against them in their home country for complicity in war crimes.

For the time being, the programme is still at the embryonic stage, but Tel-Aviv plans eventually to enroll several tens of thousands of non-Israeli youth per year.