In each platoon of about 40 soldiers, a maximum of 12 hesder soldiers will be integrated, as opposed to the present situation where entire platoons are made up of hesder soldiers.
Heads of the hesder yeshivot are split on the issue of integrating their students with non-religious soldiers. Some, such as Rabbi Yuval Sherlo of the Petah Tikva yeshiva, favor integration, while others fear it will expose students to negative influences.
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Hesder ranks ballooned over 50% from 810 in 1996 to 1,272 in 2003. Over the past two years numbers have grown 10% annually to about 1,500.In contrast, overall drafting of Israeli youth is falling due to dwindling birth rates and the increase in exemptions. Some 23.6% of eligible Israeli males are exempt from military service, up from 17.8% in 1991. The main increase
is due to a growth in youth seeking exemption on religious grounds. Nearly one in 10 18-year-olds receives deferments to continue studying in yeshivot.
Overall, there will be 300 fewer recruits this year compared to last year.
In a few years the numbers will decline by thousands, putting a serious dent in the army's combat requirements.