GLOBAL CONNECTIONS: the Near/Middle East
2000: The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) estimates that about one half of the Israeli population has completed military service.

Military service is compulsory at age 18 for most Israelis; exceptions are made for the ultra-Orthodox. Men serve for three years and women for two, with reserve service for men lasting until age 51 and for single women until age 24.

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In Israel, both men and women are drafted for compulsory military service, but women's service is shorter, and they don't serve in combat units. Many people say it's time for a change.

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Every Jewish 18-year-old is drafted in the military in Israel, but enthusiasm for service seems to be waning.

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NPR reports on the debate over whether ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students will continue to be exempt from military service in Israel.

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The Israeli parliament has given first-round approval to compromise legislation that allows ultra-Orthodox seminary students to forgo or shorten military service.