A Christian Arab from Nazareth joined the IDF of his own volition and served in the elite Golani Brigade. During his service, he was wounded in the Second Lebanon War and upon his discharge found another way to serve his country: combating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign and improving ties between Israeli-Arabs and the state.
Youssef Haddad, now 32, joined the army at the age of 18, although he knew of no family member or acquaintance who served.
Haddad spoke to Ynet about his decision to enlist, and said, “I felt that I was part of the state and I had to contribute so I decided to enlist in the army, specifically to Golani. At first, they could not guarantee that I would join Golani, but I insisted that I am volunteering for Golani and Golani alone.”
He added, “After a few days, I was contacted by the recruitment office with the promise that if my Medical Profile was good enough I would be drafted into Golani. Sure enough, my Medical Profile was 97 (the highest possible in the IDF—ed) and I began my service in Golani.”
After his enlistment, Haddad completed a squad commanders’ course with honors and was assigned to the 51st Battalion of the Golani Brigade. He spoke of the hardships he experienced as a soldier from the Arab sector: “When I went home to Nazareth, I would get teased, cursed at and spit at, and sometimes I was called a ‘traitor.’ Because I am strong and believe in myself, I did not pay any heed and remained proud of myself.”
‘I told the doctor I will yet bounce a ball’
Ahead of Haddad’s release in 2006, the Second Lebanon War broke out. During battle, he was wounded in the leg by a Russian-made Kornet rocket launched at his squad. “During the fighting I lost three commanders, seven friends and a soldier under my command. During the battle of Bint Jbail, four days before the cease-fire, a Kornet missile was fired at my force. It hit the wall next to me and as a result of my injuries, my leg was amputated and I was wounded in several other places on my body and face.”
Read More: Y Net