Following an exposé of the National Religious Magazine Shevi’i last week of the decision reached by the Hesder Yeshivas Association to pull Hesder soldiers from the Artillery Corps and the Combat Collection Corps, two religious reserve soldiers who served in Hesder units as enlisted men sent a sharp letter to the commander of artillery group 209, Col. Zvi Erdan, complaining about having had to sleep in the field with female soldiers during battery training about two weeks ago.
“We found ourselves in training with women without prior knowledge, and without knowing that we had the right to refuse,” the reservists wrote. “The sleeping accommodation offered almost no separation between the men and the women, this, too, without letting us figure out what was happening, and so we were forced to sleep in a mixed group. Some fighters had to sneak into another, remote compound, to sleep there in a way that suits their values.”
The writers added: “We are deeply shocked, and demand that the situation be mended. Regarding the event – please deal with it in a focused and decisive manner; and as to the future – we must be allowed to keep everything the Torah commands us, as well as everything we are commanded to do under IDF orders, and we will not accept any alteration of either.”
According to Shevi’i, citing knowledgeable IDF personnel, last year, the Artillery Corps decided to train only female soldiers for certain tasks relating to cannon batteries, such as firing management and the communications of each battery. This means that within a year or two, the Artillery Corps will have no battery without female soldiers.
One of the letter’s authors said to the Shevi’i: “They want to tear us away from the army, and create places without religious life in general. We are told, in effect, be secular or you won’t serve here. We come here with great devotion and love, we served here as enlisted men and we want to continue serving, but they just keep us away.”
The IDF spokesman responded that “the Artillery Corps combines female warriors in all of its components, save for in positions that do not permit this for physiological reasons. The Artillery Corps is careful to allow every soldier who maintains a religious lifestyle the conditions he needs – in regular and reserve service, in training and in the operational units, all in accordance with the Joint Service Ordinance.”