Israeli Arabs patriotically serving in IDF
More Arabs are serving in the IDF than ever before, and the IDF hopes that that number will continue to increase.
The BBC Arabic documentary team received
access to the all-Arab Gadsar unit of the IDF to learn about the Arabs who volunteer to serve the Jewish state for a documentary titled 'Israel's Arab Warriors.'
One Arab soldier, Mahmud Kashua, told the BBC that "I consider myself an Arab and a Muslim but I also consider myself part of this country."
"It's our state and we have to give back, to help as much as we can to the state which protects us."
"Our mission is to enlist as many as we can," Col. Wajdi Sarhan, head of the IDF Minorities Unit, said. "We have a few hundred and we want to double that in the next year."
There are currently ten times the number of Arabs serving in the IDF than there were three years ago.
Mahmud Kashua's father, Jamil Kashua, supports his son's decision to serve in the IDF. "I'm proud of him - this is his choice and we back him. We are happy and he is happy."
The IDF says that when Arabs join the army it helps them to integrate more easily into Israeli society. Col. Sarhan says that "We are doing our utmost to integrate minorities into the army to maintain the status quo demographically. Serving in the army is a great platform to connect the Muslim community to the state."
Arab soldiers often have to hide their service from neighbors and return and leave home in civilian dress.