Christians Joining Israel Defense Forces At Record Rates; Military Training Includes Visits To Jerusalem

gettyimages-173716052Christian pilgrims hold wooden crosses as they take part in the Good Friday procession along the Via Dolorosa on April 18, 2014, in Jerusalem’s old city. Getty Images

By Sarah Berger

The number of young Israeli Christians enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces is expected to set a new record next year, jns.org, a nonprofit wire service that covers Jewish and Israel news, reported Thursday. Last year, Christian enlistment in the Israel Defense Forces rose to more than 100 soldiers due to recruitment efforts by Christian leaders and Christian youths seeking greater integration into Israeli society; that number is expected to increase to 200 by 2016.

The Israeli military has also been increasing its efforts to recruit more Israeli Christians. A seminar opened on Tuesday for 48 Christian youths, including two women, said Col. Pini Gonen, who runs the Gadna youth battalion project for the Israel Defense Forces. The four-week seminar plans to include military preparation and a leadership course, and it will include visits to Jerusalem, churches, north Israel and more.

“I believe that the number of recruits will rise. Already today you can see [Christian] officers at the rank of major in the teleprocessing branch, [the] navy, and other units,” said Gonen, jns.org reported. “Even more senior rankings are just a matter of time.”

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