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Knesset Subcommittee Wants to Dismantle Army’s Nahal Unit

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A Knesset subcommittee has recommended dismantling the Israeli army’s Nahal unit, which combines infantry service with educational and settlement programs.

Laborite Hagai Meirom of the Defense and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee this week proposed transforming Nahal into a regular ground force unit.

Nahal, the “pioneering fighting youth,” was founded in 1949. For many years, it was a mainstay of the kibbutz movement. Many of Israel’s border settlements were originally Nahal outposts. A main role of Nahal members was to establish settlements in key border positions.

Nahal worked on the principle of the formation of concentrated, coed groups, with the men usually serving in infantry units and taking part in regular operational exercises; women often served in development towns and kibbutzim. The group was expected to join a settlement as a group after completing their service in the army.

But Meirom said this is no longer the case for the vast majority of Nahal youth. More often, members of a core group settle individually in towns and cities.

He said it would be more cost effective to turn Nahal into a regular ground forces unit.

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