In March, Lt.-Col. Dror Spiegel finally felt like his battalion had turned into
a real fighting machine.
As commander of the IDF’s Netzah Yehuda
Battalion – formerly known as Nahal Haredi – Spiegel was with his soldiers in
the West Bank village of Arane providing support for the Israel Police’s elite
Yamam counter-terror unit which was trying to apprehend two Palestinian terror
As the force entered the village it became clear that the
wanted men were not in the same home but the Yamam did not have enough manpower
to split up its force.
Spiegel did not waste any time and immediately
sent a company to one of the homes.
Within minutes his soldiers had
succeeded in apprehending the suspect.
“The ability to quickly switch
modes and dispatch a force that is flexible and prepared for such a
means that we are ready for anything that comes our way,” Spiegel told
Jerusalem Post this week during a tour of northern Samaria.
with Spiegel marked two occasions – the end of his tenure as battalion
as well as the 10th anniversary of one of the army’s most interesting
Netzah Yehuda is part of the Kfir Brigade, responsible for
most operations these days in the West Bank. Established with a mere 30
soldiers, Netzah Yehuda is today the largest battalion in the IDF, with
700 soldiers, including four companies and an elite counter- terror
Most of the battalion’s soldiers are Israelis from a haredi or
After they complete two years of service,
Netzah Yehuda offers them resources to help them complete matriculation
Spiegel took up his post about two years ago when
the battalion was still based in the Jordan Valley, where it had been
Together with the previous Kfir brigade commander, Spiegel
pushed for the battalion to be relocated. Today the soldiers are
one of the most intensely active areas of the West Bank – northern
“It wasn’t good for us to be in the same place for so long,”
Spiegel said. “Deploying near Jenin has worked wonders for the
Netzah Yehuda is unique for a number of reasons. It is the only
unit in the IDF whose members have to wear a kippa and keep Shabbat. It
women-free and soldiers eat only glatt kosher food.
Many of the soldiers
have families who frown upon their service in the Zionist army. As a
among the 86 lone soldiers in the unit are 30 who have parents who live
Israel but receive the status, which includes housing, because their
have cut all ties.
“There are many different socio-economic problems,”
Spiegel said. “Some of the soldiers who go home come back and tell
how they were humiliated.”
When it was established, the idea was to try
and attract haredi youth to the IDF by providing them with a unit in
could maintain their lifestyle and still defend the country. While it
had a slow
beginning, today the IDF has to limit the number of soldiers accepted
unit to 150 each draft, otherwise it would grow out of control.
happen over the next 10 years? Spiegel doesn’t want to make predictions
he is sure the battalion will continue to grow.
The IDF is already
weighing the establishment of a second battalion and some of the unit’s
proponents have claimed that in a number of years there will be a haredi