New law proposes soldiers only ‘AWOL’ after year and a half

January 25, 2016  

Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee approved Monday second and third rounds reading for two proposed amendments to the Military Justice Law.

The law today states that a soldier who abandons his post for more than 21 days is considered “absent without official leave” or AWOL, and can receive a prison sentence up to 15 years.

The first suggested amendment would reduce the maximum prison penalty from 15 years to 7 years, but up to 10 years in wartime.

The second new amendment would increases the time period a soldier would need to be absent to be categorized as a deserter from 21 days to 18 months.

Deputy Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense, Colonel MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home) welcomed the new amendments: “The IDF’s AWOL law to imprison a soldier for 15 years is a disproportionate sentence, which is why the Military Advocate General and the Committee approved the initiative for a reduced punishment.”

“In reality, the amount of AWOL soldiers is not so high and circumstances of desertion are usually situational, caused by socioeconomic difficult or due to lack of adjustment as a result of being part of large Aliyah waves. This is what led the Commission to approve a reduced threshold of maximum punishment and to also extended the duration of retaining a soldier who did not intend to return to service for 18 months instead of 21 days,” said Yogev.

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