Arab Israeli Volunteers Recruited for Civil Defense Units

The scene of a where a truck rammed in a group of Israeli soldiers, killing at least four in a suspected vehicle-ramming attack, in the Armon haNatsiv neighborhood of Jerusalem. At least 15 more people were injured in the terror attack. January 08, 2017. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Until just over 2 decades ago, the responsibility for looking after the safety of Israel’s citizens was held by the Civilian Defense’s Chief Officer Corps Command. In 1992, after the first Persian Gulf War and 44 years after the first Arab-Israeli War of 1948; measures were taken to create what is now the highly effective and necessary IDF unit known as the Israeli Home Front Command (HFC).

Whenever Israel’s civilian population is under credible threat, whether by natural disaster or hostile enemy attack (otherwise known as Conventional Threat), it is HFC’s responsibility to prepare, equip and protect all civilians within Israel’s borders. The HFC is divided into various units and includes a comprehensive domestic search and rescue school with battalions in different districts throughout Israel.

From developing Apps that warn Israelis if a missile is coming, or disseminating information regarding a civil emergency, or making decisions about gas mask distribution, the HFC is an organization that is constantly active in serving the Israeli public.

One of the newest projects that the HFC is involved with is in northern Israel. They plan to form civil defense units throughout the Galilee and Golan regions with the aim of assisting in any future conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

Col. Eren Makov is the Northern Regional Commander of the HFC and he explains that even though over 50% of the residents of northern Israel are Israeli Arabs; any rockets that come in from over the northern borders pose exactly the same threat to all citizens, regardless of their ethnicity or religion.

“There is a big change in the Arab population in Israel in that they are much more willing to cooperate with us,” Makov said in an interview. “We give them training in what to do and they see it as a contribution.”

Unlike going to the army, being part of the civil defense units is an opportunity to be trained in disaster relief and to work with the general public in a volunteer capacity.

One of the scenarios that the volunteers are being trained in is that of war. Even though Israel is not anticipating an imminent war with Lebanon; it is believed that Hezbollah has more than 100,000 rockets aimed at Israel. If those rockets were to hit residential areas, it would be disastrous. With Syria being distracted in a civil war, they too do not appear to be interested in a war with their southern neighbors, but it is military knowledge that these countries are always developing new strategies and skills to use against Israel when the opportunity arises.