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IDF Enlistment of Xtian Israelis Set to Break Records

325746Despite backlash, unprecedented number of recruits expected next year, as Christian leaders and IDF seminars show results.

Israel’s Arab and Aramean Christian population has long been an untapped resource in recruitment for the IDF, largely because of threats and incitement against young Christians thinking to join the army, but that appears to be changing as an unprecedented number of over 200 Christians are predicted to enlist next year.

There are over 130,000 Christians citzens in Israel, most of whom identify as Arab, with a potential annual enlistment of 1,400 new recruits. However, only several dozen signed up each year until three years ago, when the numbers started to rise to over 100 amid efforts to promote enlistment in the community.

Col. (res.) Pini Gonen, an initiator and leader of the Gadna youth battalion project for Arab Christian youth at the Defense Ministry, told Walla! on Tuesday that a seminar has recently been opened for 48 Arab Christian youths, including two women.

The four-week seminar includes military preparation and a leadership course as well as visits to Jerusalem, churches, trips to the north and more.

“They arrive with very high motivation for military service,” said Gonen. “Just last week Jennifer, an Arab Christian soldier, was selected for exceptional performance in a course operating Iron Dome. She also finished basic training with exceptional ratings.”

“I believe that the number of recruits will rise. Already today you can see (Arab Christian) officers at the rank of major in the teleprocessing branch, navy and other units. Even more senior rankings are just a matter of time.”

Tawfiq, a 20-year-old Arab Christian who took part in the current seminar, told the paper that his two grandfathers were in the police “and they told me before they died to select the right path.”

“My mother was against me enlisting to a combat unit and sent me to study in Italy. I came back and decided to enlist in a combat unit,” said Tawfiq. “I’m in favor of the state and want to raise it as high as possible. I will enlist in my own name and in the name of the entire (Arab Christian) community, and I hope to be one of the best commanders.”


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