IDF to disband all Druze battalion
Ynetnews/Yoav Zitun, Hassan Shaalan
Published: 05.19.15 / Israel News
Decision comes after 99% of Druze soldiers express desire to integrate into the rest of the armed forces.
After 41 years of service within the ranks of the IDF, the all Druze battalion “Herev” is slated to be disbanded according to a decision on Monday from Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot. According to the IDF, the decision was made after a poll among Druze soldiers found that 99% of participants would rather integrate into the rest of the army than remain in a separate unit.
A senior source in the IDF said that the decision comes at the end of “a series of consultations, including with the leaders of the Druze community who supported the desire to integrate the Druze youth into other combat units in the army. In order to preserve the glorious heritage of the battalion that lost 31 soldiers in its history… a special memorial site will probably be built for the battalion in the north.”
Some 400 soldiers currently serve in the battalion created in 1974 and it has mostly handled routine security duties on the Lebanon border – still the main mission of the battalion today.
Druze integration into the rest of the IDF will begin in the next combat draft date (July-August) and existing companies within Herev will disperse in an organized fashion to other ground combat divisions in the army. Eisenkot ordered proper officials to find individual placement solutions for each officer and non-commissioned officer serving in the battalion.
A senior IDF officer said Monday that, “further evidence of the high motivation among the Druze youth to serve the nation can be seen in the latest draft figures that 80% of the community about to enter into service want to serve in combat units – 5% more than the general public.”
The Herev battalion has played key roles in several operations and wars since its creation, and its soldiers were among the first to cross the border during the Second Lebanon War. It can easily be said that the Druze community has been more successful in integrating into the general culture of the armed forces than that of the Israeli public.
Today, some 2,300 Druze serve in the IDF and another 1,500 are officers, some of whom serve in the IDF’s most elite units. About 38% of those in regular service are combat soldiers, another 17% serve in technical positions and 13% play important administrative roles.