First Female Arab Combat Soldier in IDF

(Israel Defense Forces) Rotem Caro Weizman - Cpl. Elinor Joseph is the first Arab female combat soldier in IDF history. She was born and raised in an integrated neighborhood of Jews and Arabs in Haifa, but attended an Arab school. Her father served in the IDF Paratroop Brigade. Despite the opposition of her friends, she decided to enlist, explaining: "I understood that it was most important to defend my friends, family, and country. I was born here." After basic training, Elinor went for a medic's training course, where she was selected as the outstanding soldier of the course. She was then assigned to be a medic at a border crossing. During moments of misgiving she would remember, "there was a Katyusha [rocket] that fell near my house and also hurt Arabs. If someone would tell me that serving in the IDF means killing Arabs, I remind them that Arabs also kill Arabs." "I treated all the people at the checkpoints in the same manner, because we are all human....People knew I was there and that I wouldn't hold my tongue if need be, so they had a constant reminder to treat the Palestinians well. But really, their treatment was always full of respect." But she wanted to contribute more and was accepted in the Karakal Battalion, an infantry combat unit composed of male and female soldiers. "Although everybody is surprised in the beginning, I have always been respected, not just me but also my customs and my religion." Elinor believes that by being a combat soldier she is granting all Israeli citizens, including Israeli Arabs like her parents, a better and quieter life. "At the end of the day, this will always be my home too," she says.

2010-07-30 10:03:20

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