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Monday, August 22, 2011

IDF sets up first artillery battery for haredi soldiers

Plan receives approval of leading haredi rabbis; 60 haredi youth will be drafted into Artillery Corps, will form new battery.

The IDF is expanding its specialized tracks for ultra-Orthodox soldiers and will, later this year, open up the first haredi battery in the Artillery Corps.

The plan has received the approval of leading haredi rabbis who recently toured the Artillery Corps’ bases throughout southern and northern Israel and signed off on the initiative. In total, around 60 haredi youth will be drafted into the Artillery Corps in November and will form a new battery.

A section of the corps’s training base near Eilat was allocated to house the soldiers during their training period and will be, for the most part, off limits to female soldiers. The haredi troops will also receive Glatt Kosher food. The soldiers will serve for two years.

The Artillery Corps modeled the new battery after the Netzah Yehuda Battalion – more commonly known as Nachal Haredi – which belongs to the Kfir Brigade and is based in the Jordan Valley. Most of its 700 soldiers are recruited in Israel and come from a haredi or national religious background. After they complete two years of service, Nahal Haredi offers the soldiers help in completing matriculation and preparatory studies for post-secondary education.

“We are confident that we will be able to turn the new battery into a success,” OC Artillery Corps Brig.-Gen. David Suisa said.

The IDF has seen an increase in the number of haredi soldiers in recent years but besides for Netzah Yehuda, almost all serve in non-combat positions in the Israel Air Force, the C4I Directorate and Military Intelligence.