“Eternal Judea” is Critical to IDF’s Future, Insists Israeli General

“…the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp…therefore your camp must be holy…”

By Israel Today Staff | | Topics: IDF
Soldiers of the "Eternal Judea" battalion are all ultra-Orthodox Jews. Photo: Yaakov Naumi/Flash90

The IDF’s Eternal Judea Battalion remains in the headlines following the unintended death of an elderly Palestinian man who was bound and left in the cold while soldiers conducted spot identity checks in Samaria last month.

Omar As’ad, 78, who is an American citizen, a fact further complicating the matter, had refused to identify himself to soldiers, resulting in his temporary, and ultimately fatal detention.

The IDF has conducted a thorough investigation into the incident, and at least three commanding officers have been stripped of their commands as a result. Other punishments are believed to be forthcoming. But for some, that’s not enough.

There are those who appear to blame the tragic outcome on the fact that Eternal Judea is a battalion made up of ultra-Orthodox Jews, who are accused by many of being racist against Arabs. They want to see Eternal Judea disbanded.

Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen says this would be a grave mistake.

“It is unfounded hysteria by those who don’t understand what this battalion is and how much the IDF needs it,” Hacohen told Radio 103FM late last week. “This is a battalion that is doing holy work. We need soldiers who truly understand why they are there, that they are out there to protect the nation of Israel. They have a high motivation to do this.”

The implication being that the soldiers of Eternal Judea are more aware of the Biblical and even prophetic backdrop to their service given their religious upbringing.

Eternal Judea (Netzah Yehuda, which can also be translated “Judah’s Eternity”) was originally established as the Nahal Haredi battalion, a place where young ultra-Orthodox men could serve in a combat role within a framework that adhered to Jewish religious law (Halacha).

The battalion’s motto is “And therefore your camp shall be holy.” It comes from Deuteronomy 23:14, which reads in its entirety:

“Because the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you.”

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