IDF's first Arab officer: 'It's my duty'

A 26-year-old who has become the first Israeli Arab officer in the IDF has called for more members of his community to fight for the country.

Lieutenant Hisham Abu Rayya has faced outrage in his community and accusations that he is a traitor for taking on the role.

But he told The Times that serving in the Israeli army, and even protecting a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, was “my duty to my country”.

Lieutenant Abu Raaya rubbished claims that the reason Arab teenagers opt not to join the Israeli army is down to discrimination.

He said: “The army encourages Arabs to join,” and called for more young Israeli Arabs to join.

Lieutenant Abu Raaya added: “I feel I am an example to anyone who wants to join the army.”

In July, Corporal Elinor Jozef, a Christian Arab who was born in Haifa, said that she served in the IDF because it was her “mission”.

She said: “"I believe in what I am doing. At the end of the day, this will always be my home too.”

Last updated: 5:46pm, November 4 2010