Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon took part Tuesday in a celebration of the Netzach Yehuda (Nahal Hareidi) brigade. The brigade, the IDF’s majority-hareidi combat unit, was celebrating 15 years since its creation.
“For me, this is an encouraging moment, as someone who took absorbed the soldiers in Nahal Hareidi – as we used to call it – in the Central Command,” he recalled.
In the first year, 89 young men enlisted in the brigade, he said. Last year, over 800 young men joined the brigade.
“’Netzach Yehuda’ is considered the more important track by which young hareidi men become IDF combat soldiers,” Yaalon said.
“This brigade has succeeded beyond our expectations,” he declared. “We saw the accomplishments last year, and in the years before: determined military action in various areas, and particularly, counter-terror activity in Judea and Samaria.”
He noted that the brigade has thwarted terrorism in the Jenin and Tulkarem regions in particular, a fact, he said, that many Israelis remain unaware of.
The young soldiers in Netzach Yehuda prove that the hareidi lifestyle and military service can coexist, he declared. “You are the trailblazers. You have proven that military service can go together with a Torah atmosphere, that spirit can be integrated with strength, the sword with the Book,” he said.
They have done so, he added, “in a society that sometimes does not recognize this, and sometimes is not aware of each community’s individual needs.”
“I support a path which sees importance in allowing young hareidi Jews to serve, not reacting to them with incitement or delegitimization, and not relating to them via coercion,” he stated.
“Allowing, not forcing. That is the path that has proven itself, that is the correct path, which will lead to the so-important integration of the hareidi sector,” he concluded.
Yaalon's statements in favor of non-coercive integration come as the Knesset weighs ways in which to integrate hareidi men in the army. MKs are expected to recommend some form of sanctions against hareidi men who do not enlist.