Israel’s Border Police will establish the “Nachshon” unit of the police – an exclusively Haredi unit that will be tasked with protecting flashpoints in the West Bank, such as Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Rachel's Tomb.
The areas surrounding these holy sites have been subject to an increase in violence over the past few years, with groups of Jewish worshippers coming under attack at the hands of Palestinian vigilantes. The new unit, comprised of IDF combat unit veterans from the ultra-orthodox and religious sectors, hopes to curb some of this violence and keep worshippers safe.
Aside from maintaining security, the establishment of the new police unit also aims to integrate members from Israel’s ultra-orthodox communities into the larger Israeli society while simultaneously respecting their religious principles and worldview.
Integrating Haredim into Israeli society
Haredi Jews are characterized by strict adherence to the traditional form of Jewish law and rejection of modern secular culture. Haredi communities are often criticized by a large portion of Israeli society for their perceived lack of contribution to the state – such as a low conscription rate, non-standardized schooling and tax evasion.
Currently, Haredim make up about 1.2 million of Israel’s citizens, around 13% of the country’s population, and are projected to grow to 30% of the population by around 2060. Recent statistics showed, however, that only about 50% of men work, compared to 75% of Haredi women (close to the national average of 85%). The new Nachshon Unit will combat this by providing Haredi men gainful employment in a sector that is critical to the State of Israel – the security of the state and its citizens.
“We see here a vision that is gradually coming true, ultra-Orthodox army graduates, most of whom have families, integrate into Israeli society and get under the stretcher when it comes to a security contribution to the State of Israel," Netzah Yehuda CEO Yossi Levy declared.
Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.