Christian soldiers serving in the Israel Defense Forces are reporting being attacked by Muslims.
Father Gabriel Naddaf, head of the Israeli Christian Empowerment Council and spiritual leader of the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum, told The Jerusalem Post, “So far this year, 12 Christian soldiers have been attacked,” adding, “nobody is doing anything about the phenomenon.”
Naddaf’s own son serves in the IDF and was also attacked in December 2013 for his pro-IDF views. Naddaf said he believes the current decline in Christian enlistment is due to the growing threat from Arab Muslims.
“I call on the government to quickly put an end to this phenomenon because it will cause Christians to think twice before joining the army,” Naddaf stated.
The story came to light after a Christian IDF soldier came forward Sunday, claiming to have been attacked by a gang of Muslim youth. He told investigating police he was attacked while waiting at a bus stop in Nazareth Illit wearing his uniform. He was treated at Poriyah Hospital in Tiberias after arriving in the evening with bruises covering his body.
On Monday, however, the story changed. Investigators reported that the soldier, who hails from Yafa an-Naseriyye, confessed to having made the whole thing up. Ynet carried the response from the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum.
“We regret that the soldier chose to take advantage of a real problem of violence that exists, and which Christian soldiers deal with, for his own unknown personal interests.
“Over the past six months, there have been several real cases of violent assaults against Christian soldiers and it’s a shame the issue is being brought to light with a fictional case that could cause damage in the future. Nonetheless, we hope that in light of the public discussion and media coverage, the different authorities get into the thick of things and work to put an end to this phenomenon of violence against Christian soldiers.”
The plot thickened further as the day progressed. The soldier’s lawyer claims his retraction was made due to fear, and he was, in fact, attacked.
Eyal Paltek, the attorney assigned to the case by the IDF, told 0404 Hebrew-language news website late Monday, “It is a disgrace that the Nazareth police cannot investigate the complaint seriously. The soldier could not possibly have injured himself that way,” the attorney said. “The soldier is dead scared – his father told him, ‘If you give information – do not come home.’”
The Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum supported Paltek’s position. “There is no way that he made up the attack. The marks on the body, as can be seen, refute that,” said the Forum, adding, “He is probably frightened and being by intimidated his attackers.”
The soldier in question now faces charges of filing a false police report, obstruction of justice, and other charges.