After decades of only serving alongside fellow community members, the Druze soldiers of the Herev Battalion will begin integrating into the rest of the IDF (Zahal)’s forces. Yesterday, May 18, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot officially announced the closing of the Druze-only battalion in response to the minority community’s interest in sending their young, brave men to serve in combat roles across all IDF (Zahal) units. The Druze make up one of Israel’s largest minority groups, comprising more than 100,000 people.
The “Herev” Battalion has distinguished itself from the day of its establishment as a leading and significant force in the IDF (Zahal)’s infantry units. It has been awarded with two citations over the years: one from the GOC of the Southern Command for taking down an Egyptian intelligence unit in the Negev and another for its operational activities in the Second Lebanon War.
Since the founding of the State of Israel, the members of the Druze community have established themselves as loyal citizens, reliable allies and dutiful soldiers. Eighty percent of the Druze population in Israel drafts into the IDF (Zahal) and among the Druze soldiers who are currently serving, thirty nine percent are in combat roles. They are highly motivated to serve in meaningful roles and many of them have sacrificed their lives for the country.
In recent years, the younger members of the Druze community have expressed interest in moving away from serving in a Druze-only environment, to full integration in all IDF (Zahal) combat units, which expands their service options. Many of them already serve in specialized units in the Israel Air Force, Israel Navy and other fields.
It is in light of their preferences and past successful attempts to integrate Druze members into different units in the IDF (Zahal) that the decision was finally made to shut down the “Herev” Battalion, dawning a new horizon for the next generation of young Druze recruits.
Soldiers of the Herev Battalion in a beret march holding up the battalion’s flag and the official Druze flag.
In the upcoming months, the battalion will be dispersed and its commanders and soldiers will be incorporated into different units of the IDF (Zahal).
The battalion’s standards, traditions and quality service solidify an enormously respected and highly regarded legacy in the IDF (Zahal) and for the entire State of Israel.