Netzah Yehuda Battalion
|97th Netzah Yehuda Battalion|
|גדוד נצח יהודה|
|Part of||Kfir Brigade|
|Area of operations||Judea and Samaria (Palestinian territories)|
|Nickname(s)||Nahal Haredi (former name)|
|Motto(s)||V'haya Machanecha Kadosh|
|Lt. Col. Mati Shevach|
The 97th Netzah Yehuda Battalion (Hebrew: גדוד נצח יהודה, transl. 'Judah's Eternal Battalion'), previously known as Nahal Haredi (הנחל החרדי), is a battalion in the Kfir Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces. The purpose of the unit is to allow Haredi Jewish men to serve as combat soldiers in the Israeli military by creating an atmosphere conducive to their religious convictions, within a framework that is strictly observant of Halakha. The Netzah Yehuda's primary area of operations is in the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the West Bank.
History and structure
The battalion was founded in 1999, and originally contained only 30 soldiers. It was started after about 18 months of discussions between a group of Haredi educators, led by Rabbi Yitzhak Bar-Chaim from Netzah Yehuda organization and the IDF. As of 2009, the battalion had grown to over 1,000 soldiers, and has reached the status of a fully functioning battalion. The battalion recently marked its 20th draft.
The battalion runs like every combat unit in the IDF. Training in the battalion is that of IDF infantry: five months of basic training, followed by an additional six months of advanced training.
Today, at any given time, the battalion holds close to 1,000 soldiers, including two full companies in training, one company commencing active service, and two operation units: Palchod (Recon/ First Company) and Mesaiat (Rifleman Company). A third operational unit, Mivtzayit, was created in October 2009, due to the large number of soldiers joining the battalion in the most recent drafts. In the past, there was a small special forces platoon (Machsar) composed of soldiers from the battalion, but this was disbanded shortly after Lt. Colonel Dror Shpigel became commander of the battalion.
A volunteer all-Haredi computer unit has also been created within the Israeli Air Force. This, and the Netzah Yehuda Battalion, are seen as models for the possible future incorporation of Haredi conscripts into the IDF, should the present draft exemption for the ultra-Orthodox community be lifted.
The battalion's motto is "V'haya Machanecha Kadosh", "And Your [military] camp shall be holy", (Devarim 23:15) a phrase taken from the Torah describing the importance of keeping a Jewish military camp free of sin or ritually unclean objects (in exchange for Divine assistance in battle).
As the battalion places great emphasis on accommodating the religious needs of the soldiers, the Netzah Yehuda bases follow the highest standards of Jewish dietary laws, and the only women permitted on these bases are wives of soldiers and officers, so that there would not be any inappropriate interaction between men and women.
As the battalion runs on a voluntary basis and does not draft soldiers, it is one of the few units in the IDF which depends on a recruitment mechanism for new troops. It actively recruits soldiers from Haredi, Dati Leumi, and Chardal families; there are also many volunteers from overseas who enlist.
The battalion lost its first casualty on August 19, 2006, when a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, shot and killed Staff Sergeant Roi Farjoun of Yehud at the Beka'ot Checkpoint east of Nablus. A nearby Netzah Yehuda soldier then opened fire, and killed the attacker.
- "IDF Deputy Chief Lights Candles with Charedi Soldiers". baltimorejewishlife.com. 17 December 2020. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
- Zitun, Yoav (17 December 2018). "A Haredi battalion in the eye of the storm". ynetnews.com. Archived from the original on 13 February 2021. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
- http://www.ou.org/index.php/jewish_action/article/69714/[dead link]
- Page 8 "Special Report on Judaism and the Jews", The Economist July 28th 2012
- Ben Porat, Ido (11 November 2014). "Almog Shiloni was a graduate of the first Platoon Commanders' Course of the Nahal Hareidi battalion". Aruts Sheva. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
- "IDF's only ultra-Orthodox battalion sworn in". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. Retrieved 2021-05-30.
- "St.-Sgt. Ro'i Farjoun". IDF. 19 August 2006. Retrieved 11 November 2014.