Christian lone soldier decides to cross the ‘Finnish’ line to volunteer in IDF


30 years ago, Daniel Bana’s Christian Arab father married a Finnish tourist & moved to Finland. Bana 24, now a lone soldier in the IDF, calls Israel his home.

By Danny Brenner


Corporal Daniel Bana, a 24-year-old combat soldier in the Kfir infantry brigade, is not your typical lone soldier. Some 30 years ago his father, a Christian Arab from Kafr Yasif, married a Finnish tourist visiting Israel and moved to southern Finland. They would have seven children.

Corporal Daniel Bana in IDF military fatigues – Photo: Gil Eliyahu/JINI

“We would visit my dad’s family every year, he has a warm and loving family in Kafr Yasif,” Daniel says about his childhood. “Finland is my homeland and I hold it dear, but Israel will always be as important.”

After graduating from high school, Daniel served in the Finnish armed forces for six months, having joined a unit that specializes in forested areas. “The Finnish military has no enemies. It trains for scenarios that might never materialize,” Bana said. “After my discharge, I felt the urge to experience something new so I decided to make immigrate to Israel; I wanted to volunteer in the IDF and serve in a combat role.”

Daniel would soon leave his hometown, Karaja, where he was born and raised. He is expected join the Kfir Brigade’s Samson Battalion in about a month, having undergone boot camp and advanced training.

Bana, who was raised a Christian, was happy to join other lone soldiers for the Passover Seder meal two weeks ago, which was organized by the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers. “My platoon has one more Christian Arab and we are both having a great time,” he says. “Israel is my country, and that is why I have to protect it and bolster its security. My parents are supportive, they are not worried, although they are cognizant of the dangers involved. I am constantly in touch with them.”

Bana is entitled to a truncated service of two years because he joined the Israel Defense Forces at a relatively late age, but he says he is considering extending his service by another year or even beyond that. “I have no plans to leave; this is my country and I am willing to sacrifice my life any time,” he states.

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