Southern Command honors outstanding Bedouin soldiers

Certificates of excellence awarded to soldiers and officers in recognition of their exemplary service in the IDF (Zahal)

Date: 29/04/2012, 3:01 PM     Author: Hadas Duvdevani, IDF (Zahal) Website

Last week, in honor of Israel’s 64th Independence Day, a special ceremony was held at which officers and soldiers were awarded certificates of excellence in recognition of their service in the IDF (Zahal). Among the awardees was Lt. Ibrahim Alhuashalah – who was presented with his certificate by the Chief of Staff – in addition to 10 additional soldiers from the Bedouin sector who were recognized by the commander of the Southern Command for their outstanding service in the field.

“I accept this honor for my activity throughout my military service, for this recognition that I do my work in the best way,” award recipient Sgt. Ahmed Alatrash told the IDF (Zahal) Website. “This is touching and increases my drive to continue.”

“We are all Israelis, but our integration, the melting pot, is what distinguishes us,” Mr. Amer Abu Muammar, Mayor of Segev Shalom, said at the ceremony. Leaders of the Bedouin community attended the event to show their respect for the excellent soldiers from various branches of the IDF (Zahal). Bedouins are not legally required to serve, so those who choose to enlist and serve in the IDF (Zahal) earn great appreciation within Israeli society. Most Bedouin soldiers serve either as trackers along the borders or as soldiers in a reconnaissance brigade known colloquially as the Bedouin Reconaissance Brigade. Approximately 180 Bedouin soldiers have lost their lives during their military service.

One of the many soldiers honored at the ceremony was Lt. Ibrahim Alhuashalah, the commanding officer of the Southern Brigade of the Gaza Division, who was promoted and was presented with his award by the Chief of Staff. After completing his regular army service, Lt. Alhuashalah returned to the reserves to serve in Operation Cast Lead. After the operation ended, he decided to remain in the IDF (Zahal) out of a sense of purpose. “I believe that the integration of the Bedouin sector is very important for society. I encourage all members of the Bedouin community to enlist and to become one of us.”

Commander of the Southern Command Maj. Gen. Tal Russo awarded the certificates of excellence at the ceremony and met the honored soldiers. “As part of the continuing struggle over the years, IDF (Zahal) soldiers serve as a defensive force to ensure the security of Israeli citizens and to maintain the sovereignty of the State of Israel. This year, soldiers of the Southern Command – including our Bedouin soldiers – are located along the Gaza Strip and the southern border of Israel. The reconnaissance brigade, the trackers, the Bedouin commanders and soldiers have proven their great operational ability, preparedness for every order, and commitment to the values of the IDF (Zahal). The Southern Command is the central platform for the service of Bedouin soldiers in the IDF (Zahal), and I consider it a duty and a privilege to increase recruitment and the soldiers’ development,” Maj. Gen Russo said.

“We need the Bedouin soldiers. The challenges facing us are getting more serious – the missions of defending the southern border of the State of Israel and managing the threat imposed on us from the Gaza Strip – and we are ready for any challenge,” added the commander of the Southern Command, who also discussed the fallen Bedouin soldiers, who symbolize a sense of mission, responsibility, and self-sacrifice.

List of award recipients:

Red Division: Maj. Haled Suaed, 1st Sgt. Afif Suaed, Sgt. 1st Class Nasser Jabrin

Desert Foxes Division: Sgt. 1st Class Ayid Alhatrashah, Sgt. 1st Class, Sgt. 1st Class Abu Marei, Sgt. Ahmed Alatrash

Desert Reconnaissance Battalion: Staff Sgt. Rabiah Muhammed, Sgt. Salim Alabid, Cpl. Omri Alatounah

Outstanding student of the Reut School: Student Muhammed Alkadei