by: Yoav Zitun
Monday, 4 January 2021 | More than 1,000 Israeli Arabs have volunteered to serve in the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] as conscripts or reservists in the past year, and most after the coronavirus crisis began in March 2020, the military’s Manpower Directorate said Sunday.
The number of conscripts from the Arab sector is more than twice that of previous years, and includes Muslims from areas such as Taibe, Qalansuwa and East Jerusalem, Bedouin from the Galilee and Christian Arabs from the north.
Alongside the overall increase in the number of new Israeli Arab troops, the number of those enlisting for combat roles has also increased.
Some 450 new soldiers enlisted as scouts and fighters in the Bedouin patrol unit, while dozens more have joined prominent infantry brigades such as Kfir and Nahal, and others still are serving in the Border Police.
The increase in conscripts can be attributed to a Manpower Directorate online initiative through which some 4,000 possible volunteers expressed their interest in joining the IDF last year alone.
To the army’s amazement, some of those who expressed an interest came from so-called enemy states in the region. The applications from these countries had to be declined, however, due to security considerations.
“About 700 would-be volunteers called from Arab countries such as Lebanon and Syria, perhaps as part of the change the region is going through. We could not believe the demand,” the Manpower Directorate said.
“As a result, we opened a recruitment bureau in the Galilee, where volunteers can study to improve their Hebrew. This branch will be able to recruit a total of up to 2,500 people a year,” the directorate said.
The IDF is also preparing to open classrooms for technology studies in several Druze villages and Arab high schools in order to help them integrate as technicians in the military and allow them to acquire a profession for their civilian futures.
The IDF intends to utilize some of its new Arab and ultra-Orthodox conscripts as Home Front Command forces in their respective localities or villages during emergencies, due to the understanding that they best know the local population and its needs.
Posted on January 4, 2021
Photo Credit: Staff Sergeant Alexi Rosenfeld/IDF Spokesperson's Unit/flickr.com
Photo License: flickr.com
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