Arabic speaking soldiers seen on video dancing after completing difficult Israel Defense Forces exerciseBy Mason White 4:52 PM February 18, 2014
|A Herev soldier kissing his mother|
By: Anika Rao
(Scroll down for video) A group of Arabic speaking Druze soldiers began dancing after they successfully completed a difficult Israel Defense Forces exercise, and it was all caught on video, IDF Blog reported.
The beret march of the all-Druze Herev Battalion is unlike any other in the IDF. It’s a long march not through the wilderness, but through the lands they defend, and the villages of their families.
The beret march begins with the assigning of numbers and a call off. Along the way, the soldiers keep their spirits up with chants.
The Herev Battalion is unique in the IDF. It’s fighters are all Druze, all from the same community, and nearly all from the northern Galilee.
The march itself goes through the seven villages, where most of the soldiers are from. They stop in each village where their families wait to cheer them on, and lay out food, coffee and tea.
“The march itself is a type of celebration that connects our community,” said the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Rafat Halabi. “I remember when I was in high school, and I heard the voices of the soldiers on the march. I ran from class to look at them,” he said.
“The younger generation sees the march and feels connected to the battalion,” said Lt Col. Halabi.
The feeling of community within the battalion is part of the reason that drafting among Druze men is the highest in Israel, as 88 percent of Druze men are drafted into the army.
When a Druze soldier enlists into the Herev Battalion, he not only joins many of his friends from school and the larger Druze community, he also joins a multi-generational brotherhood.
“Everyone has a lot of family in Herev, including brothers, father, uncles and grandfathers. It really is a large extended family,” said Lt. Col. Halabi.
On this particular march, the company commander leading the march was Cpt. Adam Jamal, along with his brother Amir.
“There are advantages and disadvantages to having a battalion made up of family members,” said Cpt. Jamal.
“For me it’s hard to hold command over my brother. I leave from home in a car and he takes public transportation. But it’s not something new, as our family has three generations in Herev,” he said.
“At the same time, during a war or a mission, the fact that we’re family becomes a distinct advantage. In Herev we are really defending our homes right here on the Lebanese border,” emphasized Cpt. Jamal, referring to the fact that Herev now specifically operates on the Lebanese border where the majority of Druze villages are situated.
Aside from its community-building advantage, the Herev beret march has operational significance.
“The Galilee has the same geographical characteristics as Southern Lebanon, and the villages are built very similarly and have a similar atmosphere,” pointed out Lt. Col. Halabi.
“These marches help give the soldiers the physical ability they need for their training in conditions similar to where they could be fighting Hezbollah. We know that Hezbollah has advanced their military ability due to their participation in the Syrian civil war,” stated the battalion leader.
“They are now more confident and more experienced. We are ready for them if they do strike,” he concluded.