"There were friends and relatives who distanced themselves from me, but I don't care, my goal is to return something to the country," says Mahmoud, 19, a resident of one of the Arab villages in central Israel. Mahmoud joined the IDF last October and the Givati Brigade last March, and recently completed basic training and is now continuing his advanced training, reports Israel Hayom.
The fact that Mahmud is a combat fighter is not at all obvious. He is an Israeli Arab, a Muslim, who serves in a position likely to present him with dilemmas. He is one of the only combat Arabs in the IDF, who can be counted on the fingers of not many hands. Despite the complexity, he does not get confused and notes that even when deploys in Gaza or Judea and Samaria, he will continue to serve his country - the State of Israel.
Mahmoud is not ashamed of serving in the IDF, and he comes to the village in uniform, but without weapons.
He receives support from his immediate family - his father and mother - who help him overcome the challenges. "They give me the strength, I don't care about everything else," he says. "I don't look at what people say about me, but I look at myself, at the right track in which one has to go. I want to return to the State."
Mahmoud says he insisted on serving in a combat brigade. "I insisted on being a combat soldier, and I said that if they stick me in a job I'd leave; I want to do it all the way." Despite the complexity of serving in Judea and Samaria and on the Gaza border, he did not flinch. "I don't live in the territories, I live in the State of Israel. I'll enter Gaza without weapons. I have no problem doing what's necessary - both in the territories and in Gaza."
When asked why there aren't more people enlisting from Arab populations, he answers sharply: "The good guys, those who want to live in the country, should serve." According to him, the very fact that he is serving in the IDF helps with recruiting in the villages: "Last week people came to my father and told me that maybe their sons would enlist. Slowly, you see more people who are enlisting."