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Israel - IDF To Integrate More Charedi Companies Into Regular Battalions

Published on: December 17, 2015 10:33 PM
By: Jerusalem Post 
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Israel - Deputy Defense Minister and Bayit Yehudi MK Eli Ben-Dahan said on Thursday that in light of the success of the IDF haredi Tomer company in the Givati Brigade the army is considering expanding the model to integrate other haredi companies in regular IDF battalions. 

Ben-Dahan made his comments in an interview with The Jerusalem Post regarding the Tomer company and a recent visit he made to the Shomron region in the West Bank where the unit is on active combat duty. 

The Tomer company of approximately 250 haredi soldiers was launched in August 2014 at the urging of then Givati commander Brig.-Gen. Ofer Winter. It is unique in that thus far, the only other IDF track for haredi combat soldiers has been the haredi Netzah Yehudah battalion of the Kfir Brigade. Tomer however is a haredi company integrated within a larger regular IDF battalion, in this case the Rotem battalion of Givati.

Of the 250, currently 100 are on operational duty in the Shomron, while the rest, including 60 haredi soldiers who enlisted this week, are in basic training at present.

The company started its combat operations in the Golan close to the Druze village of Majdal Shams and the Syrian border, and in April were involved in identifying a guerrilla cell from Syria planting an improvised explosive device on the border. The cell was intercepted and its members killed by an Israel Air Force strike. 

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“Tomer is a very impressive company, it’s very professional, it’s carrying out arrests of terrorists, performing important operations which the army requires, and the IDF is trusting and relying on this company,” Ben-Dahan told the Post. “The battalion commander is very satisfied with them,” he noted. 

“They learn quickly, they are ready for battle, and they have a lot of motivation,” he continued. 

“The IDF is examining the possibility of having other haredi companies in regular battalions. Such a decision has not yet been taken however, but there are IDF commanders who are recommending it,” he added, saying that the IDF is looking at this possibility for the Golani and Paratrooper brigades.

Speaking more broadly about the issue of haredi enlistment, Ben-Dahan said that he believed enlistment figures in 2015 would meet the targets set in the last government, saying that “In general it looks ok, definitely ok. It will be a little more than in 2014.”

The increase in haredi enlistment in 2013 and 2014 was been 28 percent and 22 percent respectively. 

The deputy minister also said that claims that haredi soldiers enlisting to the IDF are only from the margins of the haredi community were not accurate. 

“It is true that those who are most open to enlistment are not the ones learning in yeshiva, but we are also seeing yeshiva students who after two, three, or four years study becoming interested in enlisting,” he said. “It’s beginning to enter the mainstream as well.”

Ben-Dahan also said the new law, which removed the clause for obligatory haredi enlistment by 2017, was creating a better atmosphere and attitude within the haredi community towards IDF enlistment because it had removed the “coercive” element of the previous legislation. 

“During the last Knesset we saw half a million people from the haredi community come to Jerusalem to protest. This new atmosphere helps boys who are in doubt as to what to do. They need this encouragement, so when they see their politicians and rabbis are not coming out against this law, that there are no demonstrations, then it makes it easier for a these boys to decide.

“I see that in the field, soldiers are integrating. Commanders are satisfied with them. The soldiers themselves feel that they are contributing and that the army is helping them, and this changes the atmosphere. They can encourage their friends to enlist. If they can be the ambassadors in haredi society and say that its worthwhile and that the army is accommodating then this will increase the draft [from the haredi community]. I see in this a great hope and I think there’s a good chance they will recommend this path to their friends.”

There are, in total, approximately 5,000 haredi soldiers serving in the IDF at present, including 1,200 in combat roles, while the remainder are in tracks like the IDF’s Shahar program, among others, which places haredi men in prestigious units within the Intelligence, Navy, Air Force and Computer Service Directorate services.‎



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 Dec 18, 2015 at 09:26 AM albroker Says:

may they be successful and safe and bring actual (not pseudo) Judaism to the Hellenists in charge.

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