IDF base (illustrative)
IDF base (illustrative)Flash90

On Sunday, MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) wrote a letter to Defense Minister MK Naftali Bennett (Yamina), protesting a new army directive permitting the introduction of non-kosher food items into IDF kitchens, and requesting the Minister's intervention on behalf of religious and traditional soldiers serving in the IDF, Srugim reported.

Ever since the establishment of the State of Israel, it has been accepted that the IDF's kitchens would be kept kosher, and this is considered part of the State's "status quo agreements." Referring to this, Gafni wrote: "Since these are public kitchens, the army has always taken great care to ensure that they were kept kosher. Recently, however, it has become known that permission has been granted to place non-kosher meat and even [pork products] in the refrigerators of IDF kitchens. Any intelligent person realizes that there is no such thing as keeping kosher by halves, and that the consequences of having non-kosher food in a public kitchen could be serious."

"I would be grateful if you could attend to this matter urgently, ensuring that the status quo is maintained, as it has been since the establishment of the State."

Gafni also cited sections of the recent directive issued by the IDF Rabbinate: "There are areas of the kitchen that are 'extra-territorial' [i.e. not to be considered on-base] - namely, the refrigerators. The food kept there can be either milky or pareve (neither milky or meaty - ed.) or meaty, and even non-kosher food items can be stored there ... unlike other areas of the kitchens, the dishes and utensils, the refrigerators are not designated as either milky or meaty."

The directive also stipulates that the food items concerned are to be "stored in sealed containers, and should be eaten using disposable utensils and dishes. These food items are not to be processed in any way (eg. heated in a microwave oven, sliced etc.)."

The matter was first brought to the attention of former MK Yitzhak Pindrus (UTJ), who was approached by the Tzav 1 organization on behalf of religious and traditional soldiers in the IDF. Pindrus then referred the matter to MK Gafni.

Tzav 1 told the Hebrew-language website Srugim: "We are horrified at the collapse of the kashrut (the following of the laws of kosher - ed.) situation on army bases. A huge number of complaints have been made by both religious and traditional soldiers from many army bases ... We hope the IDF Rabbinate will be strengthened against pressure from secular elements."