Rabbi Yaakov Medan, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Har Etzion hesder yeshiva, and Rabbi Amichai Gordin, another prominent rabbi from Yeshivat Har Etzion, issued a letter of apology to the dozens of students from their yeshiva who are serving in the Armored Corps following the inclusion of three female cadets in the Armored Corps officers course along with the yeshiva student cadets.
Earlier,Israel National News - Arutz Sheva reported that a men's only officers course of the Armored Corps that began yesterday (Sunday) will not be continued, contrary to the IDF's agreements with leading religious Zionist rabbis and in contradiction to the joint service order.
Following the report, the Har Etzion rabbis stated that service in the Armored Corps is problematic for religious soldiers and that they will recommend that their students serve in other units from now on.
"It is difficult for us to describe our sorrow," the rabbis write in their letter. "Without prior notice, the IDF introduced female cadets into the Armored Corps officers course company along with the male cadets, and now the course is mixed in a way that does not comply with the Halakha, and prevents you from serving in it."
The rabbis clarified that "the IDF is the army of all of us, it is our own body and flesh, and we will always be obligated to do everything to serve in it in the most beneficial and sacrificial way."
According to the joint service order that caused an uproar during Gadi Eisenkot's tenure as Chief of Staff, religious soldiers were supposed to get a separate track at the company level and only in exceptional cases would a smaller framework be established, with the approval of the head of the IDF's human resources office.
An officer in the Corps told Israel National News - Arutz Sheva : "In the Armored Corps, everyone - men and women are together, including accommodation in the field, and battle exercises. In the last training cycles, they put in a single female cadet and not in the combat exercises. If they start a new course that includes women, it means they had this in writing at least four months ago from Chief Armor Officer Brigadier General Hisham Ibrahim, and 6-8 months ago from Brigade 460 commander Col. Sagiv Dahan."
"It is not clear how the chief military rabbi, Brigadier General Rabbi Eyal Karim, was excluded from the process, and it is not clear how Rabbis Shizphon and Mazzi, his representatives in the field - did not refer to him in dealing with such a serious issue. This is ludicrous," he added.
INN has also learned that the heads of the pre-military yeshivas and pre-military preparatory schools, whose students are now immersed in a religious studies program, are furious at the move, which was approved by senior IDF officials without coordination with religious leaders.
Chief of Staff Kochavi has previously clashed with senior religious Zionist rabbis after taking unilateral steps under pressure from the Supreme Court and the opening of special infantry units for women, despite a high presence of observant commanders and soldiers in these groups.
The Torat Ha'lehima (Military Tactics) organization has been warning of the "increased gender mixing" in the IDF, under pressure from the Supreme Court, feminist groups and the Chief of Staff's advisor on gender matters. According to them, such moves harm operational activities, the social climate, and the observance of Jewish Law in the IDF.
In a separate development, a number of months ago, the organization revealed that at the tank commanders' course at the Shizpon Base, officers reported feeling a "camp-side atmosphere" among male and female soldiers, and a lowering of professionality.