The Christian community in Israel is small yet makes a huge impact on the Israeli population. Approximately 160,000 Christians reside in Israel, making up 2 percent of the population. Of those 160,000 Christians, 79.8 percent are Christian Arabs.
In Israel, army service is compulsory for all citizens except for Arab citizens who are not obligated to serve. Usually, Israeli teenagers receive their draft notices around the age of 17 and complete two to three years of army service. While the IDF does require Arab citizens to serve in the army, they do not turn away those who wish to serve their country. For example, the IDF has an elite tracking unit that is comprised of Druze soldiers that puts their skills in desert tracking to use fighting terrorists. The IDF is proud of its Arab soldiers and seek to incorporate them into the family that is the IDF.
One soldier, Mona Liza, an Arab Christian from Haifa, exemplifies the dedication many Christian Arabs have for the State of Israel. Mona Liza learned in a Jewish school in Israel her whole life and, at the age of 17, when all of her friends received their draft notices and she did not, Mona Liza made a life changing decision.
“I joined the IDF because I am an inseparable part of Israel. I came to serve my country and my home,” she explains. When Mona Liza went to the IDF draft offices, she was warmly welcomed into the IDF family. Mona Liza’s mother explained that while she was very surprised at her daughters decision to enlist, it brought joy to the whole family.
“This is our country and our home,” Mona Liza’s mother explained. “Here we live and here we will die. The roots of our fathers and children are here.”
Today, Mona Liza is a fighter and commander in the IDF and is involved in fighting terrorism, illegal entry into Israel, and the drug trade. Mona Liza views her decision to join the IDF as one of the best decisions she will ever make in her life. With no regrets, Mona Liza says she would sacrifice her life for Israel.
Mona Liza knows that her service in one of the world’s most elite armies is protecting the future of all peoples in Israel: “I keep the country of Israel safe, not only for the Jews but for the Arabs too.”