Israel Plans to Have Special Volunteer Labor Battalion

A special labor battalion composed of volunteers from overseas who recently arrived — and are still arriving — in Israel to serve in various non-military capacities was proposed to the Knesset today by Minister of Labor Yigal Allon.

The work force would be engaged in essential projects. Including the complete rebuilding of a road mainly with physical labor and utilizing as little mechanical aid as possible. The volunteers would be assigned to Israel’s Department for Improving the Landscape, an agency responsible, among other responsibilities, for preserving the holy places. They would also help to make presently unusable land arable In various kibbutzim.

Members of the work force would be given lessons in Hebrew. Jewish history and the geography of Israel. The Jewish Agency and the Government would establish a special Joint command to absorb the volunteers during their first days in the country, when they would live in camps and undergo medical checkups, servicing for insurance, and other preliminaries.

Mr. Allon said that more than 5,000 volunteers had reached Israel since the beginning of June, all of whom had been absorbed in essential work. Although some occasional snags have developed in the course of their introduction to conditions in Israel Mr. Allon said a more basic cause for some dissatisfaction was the natural post-war “letdown” experienced by youngsters who arrived in the country at the height of the nation’s enthusiastic support for the military effort. Young people who hoped to engage in more dramatic enterprises now found themselves asked to water orchards or carry stones for building projects.

Mr. Allon said that in the future only volunteers who sign up for a six-month period of service will be accepted. Others who wish to take part in volunteer programs, he said, would have to pay their own way. The Knesset will debate the proposals after the summer recess.

NEXT STORY