Gaza pullout
Photo: Yehonatan Tzur

Majority of Gush Katif teens desire combat service

Though feelings of abandonment have not completely subsided, evacuated youths still choose to express their ideals via IDF service

They threatened evading compulsory army service, denounced the IDF, expressed a loss of ideology and said they didn’t feel like they belonged. The impression was that religious teenagers from Gush Katif lost all desire to serve in the IDF in general and in elite units specifically.


But three years following the Gaza Strip pullout have yielded statistics showing the opposite is true. The fact is that 80% of the youth who lived in Gush Katif, were removed from their homes and are presently in the IDF, serve in elite units. The same applies for 80% of the youth expected to enlist in the near future.

The other 20% are people with low medical profiles or in difficult socioeconomic situations. Only a rare few decided not to enlist in protest of the disengagement.


These statistics were present by the Human Resources Branch of the IDF and the SELA Disengagement Authority.


According to the information provided, the soldiers who once lived in Gush Katif serve mostly in Golani and in the Paratroopers, after specifically requesting to serve in these two infantry units.


In addition, most of them are in the elite sections of each of these brigades. When the soldiers and those expected to enlist in the near future were asked why they chose to serve in these units, most answered that they decided to go in the path of their fathers.


Nonetheless, most of these youth are not interested in becoming officers.


'They felt abandoned'

A source from the trailer homes settlement of Nitzan, in which most of the uprooted citizens live, said that “these youngsters underwent a very difficult experience. Many of them found themselves confronting IDF soldiers during the pullout.


They thought the country abandoned them and felt a deep sense of pain as a result of the pullout. However, their Jewish identity surpasses everything. When the issue of enlistment arises it is clear that our youth will serve at the top. We have representatives in almost all elite IDF units.” 


The government-backed SELA, led by Tzvia Shimon, transfers NIS 6.2 million (approx. $2 million) to projects assisting evacuated Gush Katif youth. This budget is used for private lessons, extracurricular activities, camps, trips, events and army encouragement. Moreover, an additional budget exists for psychological assistance.


Shimon: “We have accompanied these youths since the pullout and have watched this group grow and develop. These youngsters are the salt of the earth, intelligent and interested in contributing to their country.


"They underwent a traumatic experience and are looking for ways to contend with their situation. They are not requesting pity, just understanding.


"They are highly affected by the way in which their parents and close environment are rehabilitating. Children whose parents have already started building their permanent homes are dealing with the pullout more positively, while those whose families are having difficulty recovering feel a sense of detachment which makes it difficult for them to deal with their educational framework."


פרסום ראשון: 06.06.08, 11:47
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