Israel’s 1st Christian Arab pre-military class graduates


Deputy Minister Akunis says Israel’s Christian Arabs serving in the IDF are partners in an alliance against radical Islam.

• IDF officer admits how volunteering for service helps Christian Arabs integrate into society.

By Israel Hayom Staff


Thirty members of Israel’s first pre-military course specially tailored for Christian Arab citizens entering the Israel Defense Forces celebrated their graduation in a formal ceremony in Haifa this week. The group includes four women.

Deputy Minister Ofir Akunis with members of the IDF’s first preparatory course for Christian Arabs.

Current law does not require most Israeli Arabs to serve in the military. But in April, the IDF launched a campaign to encourage more Christian Arabs to volunteer, mailing out voluntary enlistment forms to potential recruits, male and female. The information detailed the process of volunteering for service and spelled out the possible roles available for the recruits, including combat positions. Some 128,000 Arab Christians live in Israel.

The head of the Human Resources, Planning and Management Division of the IDF, Brig. Gen. Gadi Agmon, is quoted on the IDF blog as saying that taking proactive steps to encourage voluntary military service among the country’s Christians would help that sector connect with the military and further its integration into society.

“We are actively working toward integrating all populations, and see this as a very important step in that direction,” Agmon said. Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Ofir Akunis (Likud), who supervises the draft of Christian Israelis for the government, called the day “historic.”

“An alliance against the threat of radical Islam is being strengthened,” Akunis said.

Father Gabriel Naddaf, founder of the Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum, expressed his thanks to the government for “its help and cooperation.”

Naddaf has been the target of an intimidation campaign for his role in promoting military service for Israeli Christian Arabs and has been banned from the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. Nevertheless, the priest remains firm in his belief that military service could help fight the problems of drug and alcohol abuse and unemployment in the Arab population.


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