Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara is upset over the decision by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, to shut down the Druze Battalion.
The decision to close down the battalion after 40 years of existence was reported Monday on the IDF Website.
Eizenkot's decision “does a disservice to the heritage and past of one of the IDF’s most important and fascinating units,” he said, “despite the desire for change and integration among the young Druze, which I support.”
Kara – the sole representative of the Druze in the current government – suggested that instead of closing down the unit, it should be appended to one of the select infantry regiments, so that the framework can be preserved along with its name and symbol, for Druze and Jews to serve in voluntarily.
The decision to shut down the Druze battalion, which is named Herev, or sword, was reached after it turned out that most Druze would rather integrate into the IDF like other soldiers do, without a special battalion of their own. Many of the Druze enlistees would prefer to enter any one of the IDF’s combat units, technological arrays or academic tracks, and go on to senior command roles, in the same way their Jewish compatriots do.
The battalion will be disbanded in September and its warriors will be absorbed into other IDF units. The process has been planned in consultation with Druze leaders and clergy.
The IDF said that only 5% of Druze enlistees asked to join Herev, compared to 34% who asked for the Border Police, while the rest chose other IDF units. In practice, 19% of the enlistees were placed in the Herev battalion.
Of the Druze in mandatory IDF service, 39% are combat soldiers. Of these, 15% are in the Border Police, 9% in the Home Front Command, 7% in infantry, and 5% in the Armored Corps.
Most of the Druze in infantry units are either in the Paratroopers Regiment or in Kfir Regiment (28% in each), while 25% are in Golani and 13% are in Givati.
Eighty percent of enlistment-age male Druze join the IDF.