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Saturday, 21 July, 2001, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
Israel prepares for international call-up
Israeli tanks exercise in the Jordan Valley
Israel must 'be prepared for every eventuality'
The Israeli army is preparing to open call-up centres in nine cities around the world in case it needs to summon citizens living or travelling abroad for military service.

The offices are due to open in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Bombay, Bangkok and Johannesburg, and a South American location is being considered as well.

Israelis tend to fly back home very quickly in times of crises - organised recruiting stations will make the task easier

Lt Col Zaher Atef
A military spokeswoman told the Reuters news agency that the centres were being organised because the army has to be "prepared for every eventuality".

An Israeli officer told the daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot that the army would only begin recruiting from abroad if the ongoing low-level conflict escalates.

"Israelis tend to fly back home very quickly in times of crisis," Lieutenant Colonel Zaher Atef told the newspaper.

"Organised recruiting stations, when and if they're needed, will make the task easier for them as well as for the army."

Israeli security sources do not expect the 10-month old conflict with the Palestinians to develop into full-scale war.

Military visits

But Yediot Ahronot reported that military officers are visiting Israeli embassies around the world to make sure lists of personnel living abroad are up to date.

Israeli soldier votes
Most young Israeli men serve for three years
Most Jewish Israeli men are drafted for three years of military service, starting when they are 18, and they do several weeks of reserve duty each year until they are 51.

Most women serve one year and nine months. Most do not do reserve duty, although the army has recently decided that some should begin to do so.

The Israeli army has a standing force of 186,000 troops and some 445,000 reserves, according to Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Centre for Strategic Studies.

Hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens live abroad, and many young people travel after finishing their military service.

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