Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon seen at remembrance ceremony for fallen soldiers of the Druze community. (Photo: Ariel Hermoni/FLASH90) Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon seen at remembrance ceremony for fallen soldiers of the Druze community. (Photo: Ariel Hermoni/FLASH90)
Yaalon at the event for the Druze fallen soldiers

The IDF honored its fallen Druze soldiers in a special event, emphasizing the unique bond between Israel’s Jewish and Druze citizens. 

Druze dignitaries visit an IDF naval base. (Photo: IDF)

Druze dignitaries visit an IDF naval base. (Photo: IDF)

The IDF on Friday held a special annual event honoring its fallen soldiers from the Druze community. Titled “For the Boys,” the theme of this year’s happening focused on the extraordinary bond between Israel’s Jewish and Druze citizens.

The event was attended by some 15,000 participants and included various sports events and trips on tracks in the vicinity of Druze villages in northern Israel.

President Reuven Rivlin paid attended the event, stressing that the bond between the Druze and Jewish communities is a bond of life. “The Druze are Israeli citizens in all aspects, and they fulfill their role in society in the optimal fashion,” he said.

Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon praised the contribution of the Druze not only as fallen soldiers, but also as leading and contributing figures in Israeli society.

The Druze are especially known for their military courageousness. Ya’alon commended them for their role in the IDF, serving in Israel’s “wall of defense, which ensures the safety of all of Israel’s citizens.”

The families of the fallen Druze soldiers were represented at the event by the mother of Yussef Muadi, who was killed in action in 2009 during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. She vowed that the families would do their utmost to commemorate their sons and prayed that God “would put an end to the bereavement, bloodshed, terror and violence,” Israel’s Channel 10 reported.

Chief of Police Yochanan Danino and various members of Israel’s security establishment attended this second annual program.

Brigadier General (res.) Amal Assad, a former Druze soldier, told Channel 10: “The entire Israeli nation attended the event, and that is heartwarming. You can see only love here. We will continue this program until it becomes a tradition.”

Special Commitment to the IDF

The Druze are a monotheistic religious and social community found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan. Their religion is rooted primarily in Ismailism, a branch of Shia Islam.

The Druze form a religious minority in Israel, mostly residing in the north of the country. In 2010, the population of Israeli Druze citizens grew to more than 125,000. In 1957, the Israeli government designated the Druze a distinct ethnic community at the request of its communal leaders. Members of the community have attained top positions in Israeli politics and public service. The number of Druze Knesset members exceeds their proportion in the Israeli population, integrated within several political parties.

Colonel Alian seen during a patrol. (Photo: Yossi Zeliger/FLASH90)

Colonel Alian seen during a patrol. (Photo: Yossi Zeliger/FLASH90)

They are full citizens of Israel, who are drafted into mandatory service in the Israel Defense Forces as are the majority of Israeli citizens. Israel’s Druze population is known for its special commitment to the IDF. Today, 85 percent of Israel’s male Druze population chooses to join the Israeli military, and many will continue their service far beyond their scheduled release dates.

Rasan Alian, the Golani Brigade’s first Druze commander, attained the status of a national hero during Operation Protective Edge. He was seriously wounded in combat but chose to leave the hospital and return to his soldiers after only a short period of recovery.

Just last Wednesday,Vice Admiral Ram Rothberg, commander of the Israel Navy, invited Druze dignitaries to visit the IDF’s naval base in Haifa. The Druze delegation, led by its spiritual leader Sheikh Moafaq Tarif, visited the base to strengthen and empower community-building between the Israel Navy and the Druze community.

Druze dignitaries recognized Major Tamir Awad, a senior Druze officer in the navy, with a special award for his military service.  “It is our obligation to serve and protect the state of Israel,” Awad stated shortly after the ceremony.

Author: Aryeh Savir
Staff Writer: United with Israel