The IDF is about to receive its first Bedouin tank commander. While about 1,000 Bedouin Arabs serve in the IDF, most of them serve as trackers, or in the Bedouin reconaissance battalion. Cpl. Mustafa Tabash will become the first Bedouin tank commander in two weeks' time, once he completes the Tank Commanders' Course, reports the IDF Website.
About one in nine Bedouin men serve in the IDF. Tabash knew in high school that he intended to serve, but he planned to serve in one of the military's academic tracks. He was accepted to this track – but then changed his mind.
“Serving behind a desk was not my expectation of myself,” he explained. “I wanted to be a combat soldier." He enlisted to the Tank Corps, in the 7th Brigade, and served on a tank crew as a loader – the crewman who loads shells into the tank's main gun.
"I liked being a loader,” he told the IDF Website. “It means being the most muscular, the most combat-oriented and the craziest.”
The Tank Commanders' Course is not a walk in the part, he admits.
“The course is hard, it involves being out in the field a lot and showering once a week. We do everything with a smile and encourage each other. We learn a lot and it really turns us into combat commanders.”
Being the first Bedouin in the course means that “people are always looking at me, and it's an opportunity to show my skills... When soldiers have a hard time they look at me, who as a Bedouin did not have to enlist to the military, and it helps them and provides an example.”
Tabash says his family is proud of him – “My little brother sees me with the uniform and weapon and he gets all excited” – and that he wants to go on to become an officer in the Armored Corps.