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Number of Christians serving in the Israel Defense Force rises 300 percent

By Mason White 3:18 PM August 6, 2013
Benjamin Netanyahu meets Gabriel Nadaf 

By: David Ross
The number of Christians, who are serving in the Israel Defense Force, rose sharply, according to a report released by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Christian enlistment in the Israel Defense Forces rose from 35 last year to 100 this year, with 500 additional Christians, who doing national service, according to the Israeli prime minister’s office.

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox Christian priest from Nazareth and spiritual leader of a forum for the enlistment of Christians into the IDF, Naji Abid, a leader of the Orthodox council in Yafia, and Lt. Shadi Khaloul, head of the forum.

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics of Israel, some 158,000 Christians live in Israel, 80 percent of whom are Arab Israelis. Father Nadaf has been criticized by some Israeli Arab leaders because of his support for Christians enlisting in the Israeli army.

At the meeting, Netanyahu announced the establishment of a joint government and community initiative that will promote Christian recruitment and help their integration into the state.

“The members of the Christian community should be allowed to enlist in the Israeli army. You are loyal citizens, who want to defend the state, I salute you and support you. We will not tolerate threats against Christians and we will act to enforce the law against those who persecute you. I will not tolerate attempts to collapse the state from within. The State of Israel and the Prime Minister stand by your side,” Netanyahu said in a statement at the meeting.