Mar 31, 2015 4:17 AM

AP PHOTOS: For Israeli teens, military is rite of passage

The Associated Press

YAKUM, Israel (AP) Israeli high school seniors have more on their minds than prom and final exams.

With a mandatory three-year military service looming after graduation, Jewish teenage boys, and increasingly girls too, are gearing up for the draft, getting into shape and trying to improve their chances of acceptance into elite combat units. Girls serve two years, but very few are placed in combat positions.

Military service has long been a national rite of passage in Israel, with high school students competing to get into the most prestigious combat units. Some train solo, others in groups, to be ready for the pre-draft workouts the military holds for those who want to become air force pilots, naval officers or infantry commandos.

The military is Israel's most admired institution, and men serve in reserve units well into their 40s. Ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arabs are largely exempt.

Among secular youth, it is customary to spend afternoons and weekends in military-style training preparations.

One such group of about 400 seniors from around the country has been doing strength and endurance training with a military veteran to prepare for the rigors of the army, including running through an obstacle course.

"The mandatory military service is one of the experiences that most shapes the lives of Israelis," said Nir Cohen, 31, a former paratrooper who runs the "Excellent Training" program. "We try to prepare them both physically and mentally."

Here's a collection of images from the training.


Follow AP photographers and photo editors on Twitter:


--  Dealing with the Disease of Addiction? Click here for help --

More from

NH1 News Debates
NH1 News Replay

NH1 on Twitter

NH1 SkyView Cameras

NH1 on Facebook

Check out NH1 News Rail Polls on LockerDome on LockerDome