While the Druze community has played a long and distinguished role in the Israel Defense Forces, five Druze high school graduates are scoring a first by forming the first Druze ‘garin’ (literally “nucleus,” small close-knit group) to be created within the IDF’s Nahal Brigade, combining combat duty with community service.
The youngsters, from the Northern Israeli villages of Julis, Daliat el- Carmel and Beit Jann, are living together in the village of Hurfeish, where they are working with youth within the framework of the Israeli youth movement HaNoar HaOved VeHaLomed (Working and Studying Youth), as well as volunteering with 150 fifth-to-twelfth grade pupils, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported Tuesday.
After a year’s community service in Hurfeish, the group will enlist in the Nahal Brigade’s Battalion 50 as combat troops.
One of the five members of the new ‘garin’ said of his community service: “These pupils don’t have any after-school framework. Through the youth movement, they learn values such as equality between people, respect for others and the need to contribute to the community and the state. They also get acquainted with other cultures and get to know people who aren’t Druze, such as Jews, immigrants from different countries, Muslims, and others.”
HaNoar HaOved VeHaLomed is actively involved with the Druze community, currently serving some 3,000 youngsters.
“The young Druze have been clearly and unequivocally indicating over the past few years that they want to integrate into the larger IDF and not be in a battalion of their own,” a senior IDF official told Haaretz earlier this year.
“This is a decision that strengthens the IDF; it will lead to integration [of the Druze] in other contexts. This way, in a few years the Druze will be integrated throughout the army, more people will become familiar with the Druze and we will see them in other positions in the military,” the senior officer said.