IDF’s Bedouin reconnaissance battalion disbanded, soldiers reassigned to other units


Just as the IDF disbanded the Druze battalion in July 2015 after decades of service, the IDF closes its dedicated Bedouin reconnaissance battalion to integrate the soldiers into other units, hoping it will increase enlistment from the country’s Bedouin sector.

By Lilach Shoval


The Israel Defense Forces Bedouin reconnaissance battalion, established in the 1990s, was officially disbanded on Tuesday in an emotional ceremony.

Israel Hayom reported in March on the decision to close the battalion, alongside a series of steps to encourage Bedouin Israelis to enlist in other military units. The battalion will now become a regular patrol battalion comprising two, six-team companies. Two of the teams will be made up of career soldiers.

Bedouin Reconnaissance Unit mastering battle tactics in the desert. – Photo:IDF Spokesperson’s Unit

Bedouin are not legally obligated to enlist in the IDF, but many members of the community have been volunteering for military service since the state was founded. In the 1990s, the military established the Bedouin reconnaissance units, which eventually became the Bedouin reconnaissance battalion. The battalion was routinely deployed alongside the Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade and mainly operated in and around the Gaza Strip.

The IDF explained that one of the reasons it decided to disband the battalion was that Bedouin recruits often preferred to join other units, and stressed that Bedouin were welcome to serve in all military units.

Bedouin Reconnaissance Unit training in the desert. – Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit

To increase enlistment from the Bedouin sector, the IDF has put together a new service model that will provide Bedouin soldiers in need with a three-month preparation period after they join the military. Soldiers from the community who opt for this model will serve 24 months, and in their final month in service will be offered skills training for civilian life.


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More photos of the Bedouin Reconnaissance Unit courtesy of the IDF’s Spokesperson’s office: