TEL AVIV — Israel’s top military officer has decided to disband a 40-year-old Druze-only battalion in favor of integrating soldiers from the minority ethnic community across the ranks of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
In an announcement Monday, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, IDF chief of staff, said his decision to shut down the Herev (Sword) infantry battalion stemmed from “the growing desire of a decisive majority of the community” to serve in all units and service branches, including elite forces and top technology posts.
“The IDF sees this move as an opportunity to strengthen the full integration of members of this community in a way that preserves the glorious tradition of the Herev battalion, its warriors and its fallen.”
The statement noted the close alliance between the Jewish state and the Druze community, whose members have historically served as an example for “high motivation” and whose members “have paid a heavy price” throughout Israel’s many wars and military operations.
Israel’s Druze community comprises less than 2 percent of the total population, yet the rate of enlistment is significantly higher than combined sectors of the secular and religious Jewish population.