Maj. A. wanted to join the Israeli Navy’s illustrious ‘Shayetet 13’ frogmen unit, but found himself on the way to Air Force Flight Academy instead, while his fellow Druze friends took on other senior combat roles.
– “The uniforms I wear are a source of great pride to me and for the Druze sector,” admits Maj. A.
By Goel Beno
Maj. A.’s dream was to join the Shayetet 13 frogmen and dive deep underwater. Instead, he found himself flying high in the air after successfully finishing the Air Force Flight Academy and becoming the first Druze navigator in the IDF. A. is the pioneer, with two other Druze men following in his footsteps. They all live in Druze villages in northern Israel, where the draft and career service rates are among the highest in the country.
IAF first Druze combat navigator, Maj. ‘A.’ – Photo: IDF Spokesman’s Office
When Maj. A., 35, received his first draft notice, he was told he could not join Shayetet 13 as he initially wanted, so he decided to start industrial engineering at the Technion as a soldier-student.
“While I was studying, I received a summons for Flight Academy,” A. recounts. “I had to decide whether to continue my studies or begin the sorting process. Eventually, I chose the Air Force and went at it with everything I had.”
IAF combat navigator, Maj. ‘A.’ – Photo: IDF Spokesman’s Office
A. was accepted and began the course at the Flight Academy, but when he realized he was not designated to become a fighter pilot or a helicopter, he started questioning whether he wanted to continue and become a navigator. Eventually, after consulting with others, he decided not to give up.
“I felt like this was something very important, and that I had the opportunity to make the most of my abilities. The Flight Academy left me with a lasting impression. It’s an extraordinary experience, and the uniforms I wear are a source of great pride to me and for the Druze sector,” he says.
A. is the eldest of four, and his desire to serve his country is something that was instilled within him at home. His father was a senior officer in the Border Police, while his brother served in the Military Intelligence Directorate.
A., who is married and a father of three, plans to continue serving for many more years and wishes to send a message to the younger generation: “Have high aspirations and don’t be afraid to go as far as possible, because there is full equal opportunity in the IDF. Don’t be afraid of failure, it would only make you stronger. As Druze, we need to believe in ourselves more.”
Like A., combat navigator G., who grew up in a small Druze village in the Galilee, comes from a long and honorable lineage of IDF servicemen. His grandfather was awarded the Head of Regional Command Citation for displaying bravery and daring in an operation on the Egyptian border in the 1950s, while his other grandfather is a retired colonel. G.’s high school friend wrote in his year book that “in 10 years, he’ll be the IDF chief of staff.”
Thousands of participants took part Friday in a race to commemorate the 421 Druze fighters who fell in all of Israel’s battles and terror attacks.
This year’s race was in memory of Border Policemen Ha’il Satawi and Kamil Shnaan who were killed in a terror attack on the Temple Mount.
“Taking part in the race is a wonderful way to show solidarity with members of the Druze sector, to send a message of unity and brotherhood and expressed the covenant of life between us and the State of Israel,” said the spiritual leader of the Druze community, Sheikh Muafak Tarif.
Four Druze IAF officers will also participate in the race: the commander of the Patriot missile defense system, the head of the development team in the Ofek satellite and reconnaissance division, the commander of the basic training course in the technical unit and a lieutenant colonel and head of the planning branch of the engineering infrastructure department who is the highest ranking Druze in the Air Force.
“This is a very significant event that reflects the bond between the Druze community and the State of Israel,” A. said about the race. “This is a brotherhood, and we must realize it in other fields as well, such as education, academia and employment. Today, unfortunately, the community doesn’t receive the full rights it should be getting in other fields.”
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