Israeli Arabs Sign up for Israel’s Army

Israeli soldiers from the Golani Brigade take part in a military training exercise in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights near the border with Syria on January 19, 2015. Iran confirmed today that a general of its elite Revolutionary Guards died in an Israeli strike on Syria that also killed six members …
JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty

(REUTERS) – A battalion of soldiers crawls across the desert sand with assault rifles cocked. It’s a routine exercise, but these are no ordinary troops – they are Arabs who have chosen to fight for the Jewish state.

While the vast majority of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are Jews – and nearly all their conflicts have been against Arab nations – a trickle of Israeli Arabs volunteer for the army.

Most are Bedouin, a community native to southern Israel. But some are other Arab citizens of Israel, the descendants of Palestinians who remained during the 1948 war of the state’s founding, when hundreds of thousands of their brethren fled or were forced from their homes by advancing Israeli troops.

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