A Nahal Hareidi soldier
A Nahal Hareidi soldier Courtesy of IDF Nahal Hareidi

The IDF's hareidi combat battalion has won a coveted IDF prize for excellence and is a candidate for four more prizes.

The battalion was selected for the IDF Department of Technology and Logistics' Award. It has also been nominated for the Chief of Staff’s prize for Extraordinary Operational Achievements, an award for Excellence in Maintaining Sector Security, issued by the Paratroop Command and Chief Infantry Officer, as well as the IDF's Education Award and Safety Award.

Rabbis of the Nahal Haredi Foundation said Tuesday: “This is the best proof that when the haredi soldier is taken into account, suitable conditions are provided for him in the IDF, and things are done with dialogue and understanding, he will be better than any other soldier.”

Battalion 97, widely known as the Nahal Hareidi, won the Technology and Logistics Department award after the Department administered several surprise tests at the base. The hareidi base was found to have an especially high level of logistical efficiency, receiving a whopping grade of 99 in this category.

The candidates were nominated for the Education Award in view of the tight cooperation between the Education Officer of the brigade and the rabbis of Nahal Haredi Foundation, who accompany the haredi soldiers, in coordination with the army, from the moment they enter the IDF until they have completed their service.

This cooperation has created a unique educational program, specially adapted for hareidi soldiers, which has been very well received.

Winning the Technology and Logistics Award means that the battalion can expect an increase in funding and better equipment for the soldiers.

During the next few weeks, the soldiers will absorb dozens of additional hareidi recruits. According to data gathered by Nahal Haredi, in the most recent recruitment batch, between 80-90% of the recruits are graduates of hareidi yeshivas.

This signals a shift away from the trend of the past few years, which saw a drop in the number of hareidim in the battalion, as more religious-Zionist soldiers filled its ranks.

The main obstacles facing the hareidi battalion are the result of activity by feminists, who abhor hareidi standards of modesty and see them as discriminatory toward women. The tension has led to various clashes, including a case in which the Nahal Hareidi's sponsors requested that four female soldiers who were housed in a building that served the battalion be moved to other quarters, but met with refusal, even though the alternative quarters they offered were reportedly better equipped and more comfortable.

The Personnel Directorate under Major General Orna Barbivai is reportedly planning to issue new instructions regarding women in the military, which rabbis warn will drive religious soldiers out of the military.