The IDF intends to double the number of haredi soldiers among its ranks within a year, from 500 to 1,000, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Sunday.
Traditionally, ultra-Orthodox soldiers are stationed in either the Haredi Nahal or the Air Force. Following consultations by senior IDF officers with various rabbis, the military is now preparing to both increase their numbers there, as well as integrate them into the Logistics Corps.
Compared to the 50,000 exempts from service given to ultra-Orthodox youngsters every year, these are baby steps, explained a military source, but "these men become role models to other young men in the community; and beyond that, they are better integrated in Israeli society after the service."
The Haredi Nahal was created in 1999 and enlists about 400 young men every year. The brigade has scored several operational victories in the past year and many of its officers go on to receive special commendation for exemplary conduct.
The integration of haredi soldiers in the Air Force is relatively new, with the first 40 joining IAF ranks just last year. The process was preceded by corps assurances to rabbis that the soldiers would be provided with the appropriate accommodations to support their observant lifestyle.
Those joining the IAF receive professional training relevant to the corps technological divisions, and undergo basic training formulated to their religious needs.
Those completing a three-year service get a special bonus: Six months before completing the service, they can undergo civilian training in their profession, which will help them find their way in the job market.
IAF commanders have expresses contentment of the soldiers personal and professional performance and it was recently decided to increase their integration in the corps – a demand sanctioned by IAF Commander, Major General Eliezer Shkedy.