Recruitment figures obtained by Israel's Ha'aretz daily newspaper show a significant increase in the number of Arabs joining the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the first nine months of 2008.
Israeli Arabs - not including those of the Druze faith - are exempt from compulsory military service, though many choose to voluntarily join the army anyway.
The number of volunteers has been rather low for the past several years, but Ha'aretz believes growing economy difficulties have resulted in a 20-40 percent boost in the number of Bedouins joining the army. More than 300 Bedouins have signed up so far this year, with many more expected to join the army during recruitment efforts next month.
Non-Bedouin Arabs are also said to be joining the IDF in greater numbers, with their recruitment figure expected to reach 350 next year.
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