Photo Credit: Netzah Yehuda Foundation
Defense Minister Benny Gantz, IDF Chief Of Staff Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi with IDF's Netzah Yehuda soldiers on Hanukkah.

As a gesture of appreciation and support to haredi religious soldiers serving in the IDF, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and IDF Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi participated in the Netzah Yehuda Battalion’s Chanukah candle lighting ceremony on Wednesday near Beit El.

Rabbi David Fuchs, rabbi of Netzah Yehuda Foundation and one of the original founders of the brigade, addressed the soldiers and guests at the ceremony. “The Netzah Yehuda Battalion operates with excellence, and they are our contemporary Macabbees — combining a fighting spirit with the unique atmosphere that prevails here among us. Am Yisrael thanks you for your self-sacrifice, your devotion and determination,” he said.

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In their respective speeches, the defense minister and chief of staff both commended the Netzah Yehuda Battalion as a ‘remarkable’ brigade that excels in all realms, and expressed their gratitude and pride in haredi soldiers who serve, sometimes at the cost of estrangement from their families.

The Defense Minister quoted Rabbi Fuchs’ remark that Netzah Yehuda soldiers are modern-day Maccabees, and that “the combination of their strength and spirit is what empowers Am Yisrael throughout all the generations to stand strong against those who rise against us and to triumph.”

As noted, the event was attended by Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi. Other honored guests included Commander of the Northern Battalion General Yehuda Fuchs; Commander of the Judea and Samaria Region Brigadier General Saar Tzur; Commander of Kfir and Binyamin regions Brigadier General Avi Blott; Vice Director of the Defense Ministry Mr. Moshe Zin; Defense Ministry Department of Recruitment Director Mr. Udi Dror; and Chief Executive Officer of Netzah Yehuda Mr. Yossi Levi; bereaved family members, soldiers and commanders of the battalion.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.