First Christian Arab earns spot in elite Israeli Air Force pilots course


Israeli Air Force (IAF) pilots throw their hats at a graduation ceremony for soldiers who completed the IAF flight course at the Hatzerim Air Base in the Negev Dec. 29, 2016. Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90.

( An Israeli Christian Arab was among the cadets who began the Israeli Air Force's (IAF) 179th pilots course three months ago, Israel Hayom reported. The young man, whose name cannot be revealed, is the first Christian Arab to make it into the prestigious course.

The cadet is currently in the initial flight stage of the course, after which the IAF makes a round of cuts. There is no guarantee the cadet will become a pilot. Only about 10 percent of the cadets who begin the course complete it and earn their pilot wings in a ceremony held at the Hatzorim Air Force Base.

Just a small percentage of military recruits are accepted to the hallowed pilots course, and they undergo extensive medical testing as well as drills that test their physical and mental abilities.

There have been Druze cadets who completed the pilots course and served as pilots, but this cadet is the first Christian Arab to start the rigorous training. Israeli Arabs, Christian or Muslim, are not required by law to enlist in the military. All those who serve do so voluntarily.

Military enlistment for Christian Arabs is still in its infancy, but has been gathering steam in the past five years. Despite criticism within Arab society, several dozen Christian Arabs are currently serving.

Posted on February 22, 2017 .