Lt.-Col. Nitai Okashi will be replacing Lt.-Col. Itamar Deshel as IDF's ultra-Orthodox battalion's new commander.
(photo credit: NAHAL HAREDI ORGANIZATION)
The ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda Battalion received a new commander during a ceremony at Shiloh in the West Bank on Thursday with Lt.-Col. Nitai Okashi replacing Lt.-Col. Itamar Deshel.
Okashi received a medal of distinction in 2007 from the OC Southern Command for a display of courage, resourcefulness, determination, leadership and personal example, when he commanded his soldiers in foiling a terrorist attack in an Israeli community in the Gaza periphery.
On July 21, 2007, then-Capt. Okashi and Golani platoon commander were scrambled to a site near the Gaza border fence where suspicious movements had been identified. There, they confronted a Palestinian terrorist who was killed by IDF troops.
Okashi then identified a second terrorist between him and his men. He ordered his troops to lie down to avoid being accidentally shot, then ran toward the terrorist. As Okashi approached the man, he realized he had run out of bullets and lunged at the terrorist bare-handed.
Seeing that the terrorist was planning to explode a grenade, Okashi turned the man around so his body would deflect most of the impact.
Despite this, and despite them both being wounded, Okashi continued to struggle until his own men came and killed the terrorist.
“We thank the committed commander, Lt.-Col. Itamar Deshel, for his dedication and work for the soldiers. They won the privilege of a wonderful and ethical commander who supported them during active duty and when they were on furlough,” said the rabbis of the Netzach Yehuda Organization, which accompanies ultra-Orthodox soldiers on their military service.
“We commend Lt.-Col Nitai Okashi for his new position and wish him great success. We are proud of our role in helping battalion commanders over the years and also for our role in helping the precious soldiers who do the task of safeguarding the people of Israel and the Land of Israel while maintaining a haredi lifestyle,” they added.
Reforms passed in the Knesset in 2014 aimed at increasing ultra-Orthodox recruitment have been met with stiff opposition from many in the haredi community
, which has historically been exempt from military service and has regularly demonstrated – sometimes violently – against the draft.
Nonetheless, according to Brig.-Gen. Eran Shani, head of the IDF Human Resource Planning and Management Division, there continues to be an increase in haredim being drafted into the IDF.
“There is an upward trend in the recruitment of haredi soldiers from year to year,” he said last week. “This enlistment year about 3,100 haredi soldiers are anticipated to enlist, after 2,850 were recruited in... 2016.”