The Israel Defense Forces will send draft notices to Christian Palestinian-Arab, Israeli teenager citizens, over the next several weeks in an attempt to increase voluntary enlistment within the community. Christian Arab citizens of Israel are not subject to compulsory military service. They can volunteer, but few do. According to an Army Radio report on the new policy, every year about 2,000 Christian Arabs reach the age of conscription. The IDF says about 150 Christian Arabs currently serve in the army, with some 50 new recruits signing up each year.
By reaching out to draft-age Christian Arabs with “voluntary draft notices” summoning them to the induction center, rather than waiting for them to come forward, the army hopes to encourage more of them to join. Army officials say the primary purpose of the policy is “to inform young Christian Arabs about the available enlistment tracks and the enlistment process.”
The reported move came just two months after parliament approved a discriminatory law giving Muslim and Christian Arabs separate representation on a national employment commission and drew fire from Arab and communists lawmakers. “The measure was to be expected following the campaign by the Israel right to divide Christians from their own people by encouraging them to think that they are not Arab-Palestinians and members of a national minority in Israel,” said MK Hanna Sweid (Hadash) He urged teenagers who received call-up papers to “send them back or publicly burn them, because the next step could be compulsory military or compulsory community service.”