soldiers
Ceremony marking the end of basic training of a Nahal Haredi battalion. Photo by Alex Levac
Text size

The Artillery Corps of the Israel Defense Forces is to begin drafting ultra-Orthodox soldiers for the first time this fall.

In November around 60 Haredi men are expected to enlist in the corps. They will serve in a separate unit, with special terms of service that were negotiated between the Defense Ministry and yeshiva heads who allowed their students to be drafted.

This will be the first combat unit created specifically for Haredim since the establishment 12 years ago of the Haredi Nahal battalion.

IDF chief artillery officer Brig. Gen. David Suissa, who was behind the decision to form the new unit, described the initiative as "a national mission."

Although there has been a significant increase in the number of ultra-Orthodox draftees - last year there were more than 3,000 - the majority serve in skilled, noncombat positions in Military Intelligence, the Israel Air Force and the Teleprocessing Branch.

The first 60 recruits will undergo basic training in a separate area of the corps' training base at Shivta, in the southern Negev. Several rabbis recently visited the base to examine the arrangements for the Haredi conscripts, which they approved. The recruits will receive food with special kosher certification and will be alloted time for prayer and religious study.

Although the Artillery Corps has been one of the foremost integrators of women in its command ranks, the Haredi soldiers will be trained solely by men.

After their training, they are to staff an artillery battery on the Golan Heights.