Christian enlistment in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has nearly tripled in
the past year, going from 35 to 100, with another 500 Christians doing national
service, according to the Israeli Prime Minister’s office.
The IDF badge. Credit: Israel Defense Forces.
On Monday, Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox
priest from Nazareth and spiritual leader of a forum for the enlistment of
Christian youth in the IDF, Naji Abid, leader of the Orthodox council in Yafia
and Lt. (ret.) Shadi Khaloul, head of the forum.
According to the Israeli
Central Bureau of Statistics, approximately 158,000 Christians live in Israel, 80
percent of which are Israeli Arabs. Father Nadaf has come under fire from some
Israeli-Arab leaders due to his support for young Christians enlisting in the
At the meeting, Netanyahu
announced the creation of a joint government-community forum to encourage
Christian enlistment and help their integration into the state.
“Members of the Christian
community must be allowed to enlist in the IDF. You are loyal citizens who want
to defend the state and I salute you and support you. We will not tolerate
threats against you and we will act to enforce the law with a heavy hand
against those who persecute you. I will not tolerate attempts to crumble the
state from within. The State of Israel and the Prime Minister stand alongside
you,” Netanyahu said in a statement during the meeting.