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Arab IDF Soldier: I Love This Country and Want to Contribute

Nearly 200,000 active soldiers serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Out of these, The Jerusalem Post reports, several hundred Arabs stand up for what is right and serve the nation and people they love:

A battalion of soldiers crawls across the desert sand with assault rifles cocked. It's a routine exercise, but these are no ordinary troops - they are Arabs who have chosen to fight for the Jewish state.

While the vast majority of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are Jews - and nearly all their conflicts have been against Arab nations - a trickle of Israeli Arabs volunteer for the army.

Most are Beduin, a community native to southern Israel. But some are other Arab citizens of Israel, the descendants of Arabs who remained in Israel during and after the 1948 War of Independence.

"Why did I decide to enlist?" asks Sergeant Yusef Salutta, a 20-year-old Arab from the north of Israel who serves with the Desert Reconnaissance Battalion. The army rarely grants journalists access to the unit.

"Because I'm from this country and I love the country and I want to contribute," he said. "Everyone should enlist, anybody who lives here should enlist."

The military conscripts young Jewish men and women, but not Arabs. It does not report exact numbers of Arab volunteers, but officials say there are several hundred among the 175,000 active personnel.

A silver Star of David necklace hung around Salutta's neck, and he chatted with fellow-soldiers in Hebrew...

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