The Changing Face of the IDF

For most of Israel’s history, religious soldiers were a minority in the IDF. Haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews) did not serve at all, a large number of religious Zionists served for less than the standard three-year tour of duty, and religious Jews were underrepresented in the officer corps. All of this has changed over the last years, with the proportion of religious Jews among both soldiers and officers rising dramatically. Skeptics have warned that the shift could lead to problems, but so far such that has not been the case:

There has always been a fear in the army of religious soldiers because religion provides them with another source of authority—to whom would they listen in a clash between their religion and an army command? The major flashpoint for this was the removal of settlements in Gaza in 2005. Would rabbis tell their students to refuse orders to remove residents from Gaza? Would they listen? In 2005 there was a huge discussion about this, but in the end, there were relatively few refusals to serve, mainly at junior levels of the army.

Read more at Torah Musings

More about: IDF, Religious Zionism, Ultra-Orthodox

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7