IDF haredi unit forces 2 female soldiers, Druze soldier out of base

The troubled IDF haredi Netzah Yehuda Battalion was moved to the Syrian border from the West Bank, but the need to maintain a haredi lifestyle saw them kick 2 female soldiers and a Druze soldier out.

 Netzah Yehuda Battalion  (photo credit: HILEL MEIR)
Netzah Yehuda Battalion
(photo credit: HILEL MEIR)

The haredi Netzah Yehuda Battalion has been transferred from the West Bank to the Syrian border, the IDF said Monday.

While the transfer, reported first by Haaretz, removes the controversial battalion from its friction with Palestinians in the West Bank, and its problematic history of beatings, it means forcing out two female soldiers and one Druze soldier who had been serving at the base on the Syrian border.

 The Druze soldier was transferred because he works in the kitchen, and Netzah Yehuda has its own specialized kitchen personnel for specific kashrut standards, IDF sources said.

The two female soldiers were transferred from the emergency command center at the base so that the ultra-Orthodox soldiers could maintain their haredi lifestyle, the sources said.

Multiple women’s groups slammed the IDF decision, saying that women should not lose their already limited progress in the IDF to help the military solve discipline problems for the haredi unit.

 Netzah Yehuda Battalion soldiers  (credit: HILLEL MEIR) Netzah Yehuda Battalion soldiers (credit: HILLEL MEIR)

"There never has been and never will be a place in the IDF for such behavior."

Aviv Kohavi

Haredi IDF unit's controversies with Palestinians

In August, four haredi combat soldiers were suspended after they were filmed beating two Palestinians west of Ramallah. In the video, the soldiers can be seen pushing the Palestinians to the ground and kicking them repeatedly.

“This is a severe and repugnant incident that is in serious violation of the IDF’s values,” Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi said at the time. “The soldiers involved are not worthy of serving. The incident will be fully investigated by the commanders and the Military Police. Those involved will be brought to justice. There never has been and never will be a place in the IDF for such behavior.”

Netzah Yehuda is a specialized track for haredi soldiers that was previously known as Nahal Haredi. It was established in 1999, and its soldiers began to be stationed in the Ramallah area from 2015.

This was not the first time Netzah Yehuda soldiers have been caught in such a scandal.

In October 2021, several soldiers from the battalion were arrested after an investigation was opened when a Palestinian prisoner said he had been physically abused. The investigation revealed that the soldiers had beaten the prisoner while he was handcuffed and blindfolded.

In January 2022, an 80-year-old man was found dead of a heart attack after Netzah Yehuda soldiers detained him in Jaljulya, a village north of Ramallah. The soldiers said they had arrested him because he resisted a security check, and they released him alive. But photos from the scene of his arrest showed the elderly man on the floor with his hands handcuffed in zip ties, and there was suspicion of abuse.

Netzah Yehuda soldiers have also been known to ignore incidents in which Jews attack Palestinians in the West Bank, letting them go without facing consequences. They have also been known to harass Peace Now activists, with a number of soldiers in one video discussing how they should shoot one of the activists.

Ariella Marsden contributed to this report.