Guest post by Captain Jameel Murad, a company commander of new recruits in the Herev (‘Sword’) Battalion, comprised entirely of Druze soldiers:
Every Druze child gets to hear about the Herev Battalion from birth, through the stories told by our parents and siblings, most of whom served there in their younger years. From the arduous training to the many operations which made IDF history, as well as the successes in the field—there’s a special sort of pride we take in this unit.
I enlisted to the army seven years ago, like many of the Druze my age. The experience was so amazingly unique, although I didn’t appreciate how much until I was sent out to my first commanding course. As a new recruit, you already know everyone, including the commanders who can both train you and empathize with you on the most personal level. That’s what makes the battalion so special – the soldiers, from the highest rank to the lowest, know each other from home.
There are a couple landmarks I’ll never forget – the ones which make it all worthwhile to be a combat soldier in the battalion. For instance, during my beret march, we went through all our villages in the north, and our parents walked alongside us, chests puffed out with pride.
Later on I took part in the Second Lebanon War. That was a time where the abilities of the single soldier, the fierceness and professionalism of the commanders and their men alike, brought us great success.
Today I’m a company commander of a company of new recruits, and I see things from a different angle. My soldiers are already the third generation after the Compulsory Service Law [which made service compulsory for Druze]. The soldiers understand the nature of their service and come to us with tons of motivation, especially for combat positions – they understand it’s an integral part being an Israeli teenager who wants to help protect his or her country. They see we’ve taken up the glove of defending our homeland, which gives back to us as much as we give up for Israel.
The Herev Battalion is an important starting point for a young Druze to progress in their life and “make headlines” in the army and the country at large. It’s an incredible battalion which I’m proud to be a part of.
56 years ago today, 30 Druze soldiers joined the ranks of the IDF – the first generation of official recruits. Since then 83% of Druze youth enlist to the IDF’s – more than the numbers of Jewish youth. The Herev (‘Sword’) Battalion, comprised almost entirely of Druze soldiers, specializes in the Northern Command and is currently training in the Golan Heights.