IDF Induction Base Commander Colonel Gil Ben Shaul has met with dozens of members of the Hilltop Youth movement in the West Bank on Monday in an effort to convince the young, far-right activists to enlist with the army.
Recent years have seen growing tension between the settler movement and the IDF over the razing of illegal outposts and "Price Tag" acts. A breaking point was reached last year, when a group of youths broke into the Ephraim Territorial Brigade's base and vandalized it.
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But when some young settlers have expressed interest in joining the army, former Chief Military Rabbi Avichai Ronsky decided to bring the potential soldiers together with the Induction Base commander in an attempt to repair the rift.
During the meeting, which was held at the Havat Gilad outpost, Ben Shaul stressed the importance of military service, and later held personal interviews to discuss IDF positions. Several of the attendees are expected to report to the Induction Base in the coming days in order to enlist.
'We encourage youth to enlist'
Itai Zar of Havat Gilad noted he was surprised by the success of the meeting.
"I didn't believe that this would work, but I was glad that it did," he said. "Of course, we encourage the youths to enlist, (the IDF) is the people's army and it protects us. The religious youth will enlist as long as the army behaves as it should and doesn't turn into a pawn at the hands of politicians."
Rabbi Ronsky, who is considered one of the biggest opponents of the Hilltop Youth's activities, said he was pleased as well.
"My attitude towards the youths was very negative, but it has changed during this gathering," he said.
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said in response that the "IDF aspires to expand the number of its recruits while following the rules and upholding enlistment standards."
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