They train, fight, sacrifice themselves for the country, and once a year, on a day held especially to honor them, the IDF expresses a special thank you. A festive event is held in honor of the soldiers of the Druze ethnicity.
By Adir Mor
The IDF and the Friends of the IDF Foundation are proudly marking today (Sunday) as Druze Soldiers’ Day. Thousands of soldiers and officers will receive commendations for their actions and contribution to the security of the state while serving in the military. The day started at the ‘Country Club’ in Carmiel, continued with a festive dinner for the Druze soldiers, both in regular and reserve service and finished with the main ceremony. The entire event took place in the northern Israeli city, which hosts the Druze Soldiers’ Day. Among the prominent figures at the event were the Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, the Mayor of Carmiel, Mr. Adi Eldar, and other public officials.
“I have come here today to wish you a blessing on your festive day, in the ceremony which is taking place in your honor-in the honor of the soldiers and commanders of the Druze population,” the Chief of General Staff began. “The IDF in its entirety feels the utmost respect, honor, and gratitude to you, members of the Druze community. You have chosen to join us in our combined fate in the Nation of Israel.”
“The Druze soldiers can be found today in every corps and in every branch of the military. A Druze soldier can be part of any unit, and assume any position, in accordance with his talents and abilities,” the Chief of General Staff noted. He added: “In the last draft, a Druze soldier went to IAF Flight School, to the elite Shayetet 13 Unit, to the Sayeret Matkal elite unit, and a great number of others serve in a wide range of units as well as in all of the combat units of the IDF. I am proud to say that the percentage of members of the community who enlist into the IDF is worthy of presenting a figure for emulation for all the youth of Israel.”
“The integration of Druze soldiers into the IDF can be seen in all of its branches, as well as in leadership positions,” notes Colonel Ramiz Ahmed, head of the population directorate in the Human Resources Branch. The percentage of enlistment from the Druze population is currently 82.9 percent, which is very impressive in comparison to the national enlistment percentage. Another interesting issue is the bravery of six Druze soldiers and a battalion of Druze infantry in the Second Lebanon War, which are expected to receive a citation for exemplary service for their exceptional sacrifice during the war.
“Today, when evasion of the draft is such a serious issue, these figures serve as a good example, displaying the high motivation level of Druze soldiers, and their quality in addition to the sheer numbers,” says Colonel Ahmed contently. He concludes: ”I think that this event will strengthen the integration of Druze soldiers into the IDF, and will encourage others who have not yet enlisted to do so and make their contribution to the state-I have no doubt about it whatsoever.”