In a reversal of a decades-long policy, the IDF is now making it easier for Christian Arabs to enlist in the IDF.
Previously, if a Christian Arab wanted to enlist in the IDF, he would have to seek out recruiters and begin the lengthy process himself. Now, the IDF will send out traditional military draft notices directly to their homes, easing the enlistment process.
Christian service in the army is on a completely voluntary basis. Over the past several years, the number of Christian draftees into the IDF has steadily risen.
According to Army Radio, the IDF hopes that implementing active recruitment methods will help ease the recruitment process and encourage other Christian’s to serve.
With the new methods in place, Christians, like their Jewish peers, will receive conscription papers around the age of 16. However, unlike their Jewish peers, Christian participation will remain voluntary.
Last year, around 50 Christian draftees enlisted in the IDF. The army hopes that this number will double in the coming year.
Greek Orthodox priest Father Gabriel Naddaf, a vocal proponent of Christian enlistment in the IDF, welcomed the newest recruitment change. Naddaf, whose son was beaten last December for enlisting in the army, told Army Radio: “I welcome this important and historic step, where the IDF correctly determined and demonstrated that the Christian community is part of Israeli society, and chooses to integrate it into society as citizens with equal rights and responsibilities.”
However, not all are happy with the IDF’s efforts to recruit Christians. MK Basel Ghattas (Balad) told Army Radio on Tuesday that sending conscription notices to Christian Arabs is Israel’s way to further divide Israeli Arabs in Israel.
“Within a year we will see them trying to enlist everyone,” Ghattas claimed. “We are obviously against it. I called to all the young men in the sector to send back the enlistment orders or to burn them at a protest.”