Gideon Aran: The Haredi unit in the late 1990s

The Haredi unit was established in the late 1990s following the initiative of army officers of the National-Religious sector who made contact with certain Haredi rabbis of rather marginal and somewhat controversial status in their community, and who specialized in dealing with the delicate problem of the yeshiva drop-outs.

Written By Prof. Gideon Aran

In the early years only a few dozen were drafted. At present, every cohort includes about a hundred Haredim and all together they constitute a regular battalion. They serve in the army for three full years, two of them in a far-away camp in the desert, where training is combined with operational activity.

Their main function is guarding the eastern frontier and preventing infiltration of terrorists from Jordan, as well as ambush and pursuit of terrorists from the West Bank. They spend another year in Jerusalem, where they divide their time between Torah study and academic and technological training aimed to enable them to enter the labor market after discharge.

Commanders and soldiers of the Haredi battalion boast of the high professional level achieved due to their tough training, requiring a high level of motivation. During the present Intifada, units of the Haredi battalion were engaged in actual combat against armed Palestinians, a fact which gained extensive coverage in the media. The first wounded Haredi soldiers – a cultural “index” of heroism – have been repeatedly used for public relation of the battalion and for boosting its morale.

Taken from “Body, Violence and Fundamentalism: The Case of Jewish Ultra-Orthodoxy” By Gideon Aran.

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