Beit Yatir students in support of IDF
Beit Yatir students in support of IDFIsrael news photo: Moti Ovadia

Religious students from the Beit Yatir pre-military academy located in the Hevron Hills in Judea held a demonstration on Tuesday evening in support and solidarity with Israeli soldiers.

The demonstration of support was held at the entrance to the base of the IDF’s Judea Brigade. The students, who were accompanied by the academy’s Dean, Rabbi Moshe Hagar, initiated the demonstration after they heard about the riot Monday night at the Ephraim base in Samaria.

“We are the IDF and the IDF is us, and we sympathize with the soldiers and commanders,” Rabbi Hagar said. “We express our distaste at the damage done to the IDF, the body which unites the Israeli nation.”

Some 50 angry youth had invaded the Ephraim Brigade headquarters in Samaria during Monday night’s incident, sparking clashes with the soldiers stationed there. During the raid the youth reportedly burned tires and damaged IDF vehicles by throwing stones, Molotov cocktails, and scattering nails on the road. IDF personnel were forced to call for police reinforcements to end the incident.

The confrontation occurred after residents of the community of Ramat Gilad heard that police were on their way to destroy their homes.

When the Beit Yatir students came to the Judea Brigade’s base, the soldiers serving there were pleased to find out that the commotion near the entrance was a demonstration of support. The Deputy Brigade Commander thanked the youths for their support and said he was excited to see the way which they chose to express their support. The students began dancing and the soldiers soon joined them.

The Beit Yatir pre-military was established 20 years ago next to the community of Beit Yatir on Mount Hevron. The academy, like all pre-army [mechina] academies and hesder yeshivas, educates its students towards giving and sacrificing themselves for the people of Israel. Students are part of the IDF  during both their Torah study and active service periods and many of them serve in elite units. 

At the time of the expulsion of Jews -the "disengagement" - from Gaza, observers predicted that using the IDF to banish Jews from their homes would lead to estrangement from the IDF of some of the idealistic young people who were shocked to see soldiers unemotionally following orders that destroyed their lives. It did not affect these young people from enlisting, out of all proportion to their numbers, in elite units. However, at the time, some became convinced that the peaceful, quiet protests that preceded the 'disengagement'  were a tactical mistake, because the government ignored them, although hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets against the disastrous move.