The nonprofit soldier-support organization Yashar LaChayal (www.yasharlachayal.org) recently distributed 100 winter packages to new recruits of the 299th Battalion. This battalion is part of the IDF Minorities Unit, an Arabic-speaking unit of the Israel Defense Forces, and is made up of Druze soldiers.
Today, 85 percent of Israel’s male Druze population chooses to join the Israeli military. Druze soldiers have been serving in the army since the 1950s. Rasan Alian, the Golani Brigade’s first Druze commander, was seriously wounded during Operation Protective Edge in combat and returned to his soldiers after only a short recovery.
In an emotional ceremony on November 28, the soldiers each received a fleece jacket, thermal shirt, gloves, hat, and neck warmer.
Leon Blankrot, Yashar LaChayal’s executive director, said, “Yashar LaChayal has supported the 299th Battalion for over seven years, and feels very strongly about showing our gratitude for their dedication to the State of Israel.” Recently their training base was relocated from the Nachal training base in the Negev to the Golani training base in the Galilee, making it easier for the Druze soldiers to get home in the north. Yashar LaChayal planned the ceremony at the new base to show appreciation to these brave soldiers for their service.
The master sergeant of the Golani training base, who is also from the Druze community, said, “We very much appreciate the support that Yashar LaChayal has given to the IDF over the years, to the Golani Brigade in particular, and especially now to the Druze Battalion. Yashar LaChayal is an organization that is well known to the IDF, and I can attest to the tremendous support we received from them for the past eight years.”