Israel Planning ultra-Orthodox Platoon for IDF's Paratroop Brigade

The ultra-Orthodox recruits will be in an environment separate from women and the final phase of their service will be dedicated to supplementary education courses.

File photo: A soldier in the Israel Defense Forces' ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda infantry unit.
Gil Cohen-Magen

The Israel Defense Forces are planning to create a new ultra-Orthodox platoon within the Paratroop Brigade. The platoon will be operational from November.

Currently, an ultra-Orthodox platoon, known as "Tomer," is operational within the Givati Brigade. The IDF is interested in expanding the model by establishing such platoons in other infantry brigades.

The training and activities of such platoons will be similar to that of the Neztah Yehuda Battalion, known as the Haredi Nahal and which is part of the Kfir Brigade, combining regular operational activities with Torah studies and prayers. It is open to all ultra-Orthodox men between the ages of 18 and 21 who are fit for combat.

An assessment was carried out at the paratroop training base a few weeks ago to prepare the base to absorb an ultra-Orthodox platoon. They are expected to undergo the same basic training as all paratroop recruits.

The ultra-Orthodox model is described on the IDF website as "Gender-based service – for males only," in other words, the soldiers of the platoon will be in an environment that is separate from women soldiers.

In addition, the final phase of their service will be dedicated to study and supplementary education, by means of an academic preparatory course or an engineering preparatory course.

Some 5,000 ultra-Orthodox soldiers and officers are currently serving in the IDF, according to IDF data. Some 2,700 ultra-Orthodox men are scheduled to be drafted in 2017.