(JNS.org) Israel has announced increased efforts to encourage Christians to join the Israeli military.
“We intend to appeal to the Christian population of conscription age and will send them call-up notices to volunteer for service,” Israel Defense Forces Lieutenant-Colonel Amir Hai said in a statement Tuesday.
According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, there are about 161,000 Christians living in Israel, roughly 2 percent of the country’s total population.
The announcement on military recruitment is part of a growing trend within the Israeli Christian community to seek greater integration into Israeli society. This has caused tension with Muslim Arabs, who Christian Arabs have traditionally aligned with.
Last year, Christian recruitment into the IDF nearly tripled, to nearly 100.
“I welcome this important and historic step, where the IDF correctly determined and demonstrated that the Christian community is part of Israeli society, and chooses to integrate it into society as citizens with equal rights and responsibilities,” Greek Orthodox Priest Father Gabiel Nadaf, head of the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum, told Army Radio.