The 17-year-old son of a Greek Orthodox priest who encourages Christian Arab youth to integrate into Israeli society and join the Israel Defense Forces was brutally beaten in Nazareth over the weekend.
Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus, has the largest Christian Arab population in Israel.Nazareth-based Father Gabriel Nadaf founded the Forum for Christian Community more than a year ago. Since then the number of Christian Arabs enlisting in the IDF jumped from 35 to 120, with another 500 opting to volunteer for a non-military National Service program.
Military service is mandatory for Jewish Israelis but Arab Israelis (and other non-Jews) are exempt. Some non-Jewish communities do serve in the military, but they are often persecuted by their own communities.
Nadaf told CBN News in an earlier interview that looking around at the Middle East, Christians are being persecuted for their faith everywhere except in Israel. So the time had come for Christian Arabs to contribute their part to the state of Israel.
"We live together and this is the State of Israel, the Holy Land, the Land that is the most important to us, the Land that defends us, that protects us," Nadaf said. "[Israel] deserves that we will contribute our part in her defense."