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Nahal Haredi soldiers (archies)
Photo: Pablo Bichman

Next generation of ultra-Orthodox recruits

Despite challenges, IDF decides to form additional Nahal Haredi battalion to be completely operational, identical in size to existing Netzah Yehuda Battalion

At the end of a deliberation held amongst the upper IDF echelons, it was decided last week to form a new Nahal Haredi battalion in addition to the existing Netzah Yehuda Battalion, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday.

 

While the government has not yet reached a decision regarding the obligation of haredi enlistment to the IDF, the army is preparing itself for a significant enlistment of this unique population, and over 5,000 haredim have undergone examinations for the first IDF recruitment order.

 

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The Peri Committee for Promoting Equal Share of the Burden, led by Science Minister Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid), will submit its recommendations in about a month and a half and the primary question that awaits a response is if at the end of the process, it will be decided to impose sanctions on those who evade serving or on the yeshivas in which they studied.

 

Either way, the creation of the new battalion will begin this summer with the enlistment of the first combat company. Later, commanders and fighters from the existing Nahal Haredi battalion will join to reinforce it.

 

It is estimated that within a few years, the battalion will be completely operational and identical in size to the Netzah Yehuda Battalion. The question that remains is to which infantry brigade the new battalion will belong. One thing is clear: the battalion will not be part of the Kfir Brigade like Netzah Yehuda; ensuring that this brigade refrains from becoming entirely haredi.

 

The Netzah Yehuda Battalion – nicknamed "Battalion 97'" or "Nahal Haredi" is part of the Kfir Brigade and its base is in the Jenin sector. The combat soldiers received "Rifleman 07" training, hold the lines, conduct arrests as well as routine security tasks and combat missions.

 

In the past years, it became operational and even won a prize for excellence by the head of the Central Command.

 

As far as the IDF is concerned, opening a haredi battalion is quite the headache. Former Personnel Directorate, Major-General (Res.) Avi Zamir expressed his objection at the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee for fear that this will become another homogenous framework that will isolate the haredi public even more.

 

But in light of the plan to expand the quota of haredi soldiers in the army – standing currently at 1,500 soldiers a year – the army is changing policy. Maintaining a battalion leads to numerous expenses due to the population's special needs including stricter kashrut and higher salaries.

 

However, it should be noted that an additional battalion saves the army the enlistment of 18 reserve troops for operational activity.

 

The IDF Spokesperson's Unit announced on Sunday that "the IDF continues to form designated and suited service tracks for the haredi enlisters."

 

 

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פרסום ראשון: 04.22.13, 13:16
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