IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot recently stepped up efforts to recruit Bedouin citizens of Israel into the Israel Defense Forces.
“The Bedouins are fierce fighters and are a central part of the IDF’s capabilities. I see enormous potential to increase the number of Bedouin career soldiers and officers and to increase the overall number of Bedouins drafted into the IDF,” Eisenkot said on a recent visit to the south, where he met with leaders of the community along with the head of the IDF Manpower Directorate Maj. Gen. Moti Almoz.
Conscription for Muslim and Christian Arab citizens of Israel is not mandatory. However, many Bedouins have volunteered for service in the IDF. The number of Bedouins volunteering for IDF service currently stands at around 450 per year.
Eisenkot and Almoz announced a number of steps to encourage Bedouin to volunteer for the IDF, including discounts in buying plots of land for housing – 90 percent in the north of the country and 50% in the south – after completion of 24 months of service.
Other measures include shortened service of 28 months instead of two years and eight months for men; opportunities for academic study as part of their military service; free vocational training upon completion of military service; a teacher training track; subsidized academic studies; and help with job placement in government companies.