Coming from a diplomatic family, Corporal Aaron Refael’s enlistment into the IDF (Zahal) was more unique than most. Aaron was born to a Catholic family, originally from the Philippines, who relocated to Israel before Aaron was born. Growing up in Israel, he was determined to serve as a soldier in the IDF (Zahal) like the rest of his friends. Despite the difficulties along the way, Cpl. Refael fulfilled his dream and is thriving as a combat soldier in the IDF (Zahal).
Like every Israeli at the age of eighteen, Corporal Aaron Refael drafted into the IDF (Zahal). However, Aaron is no ordinary Israeli. Today, he serves in the IDF (Zahal)’s Nahal Infantry Brigade, but the process to get there was not simple.
Aaron comes from a Catholic family, originally from the Philippines, and his father works as a driver in the Japanese Embassy to Israel. He was born and raised in Herzliya and has always considered Israel his home. Aaron grew up learning about the importance of the IDF (Zahal), and knew from a very young age that he wanted to take part in defending the country. “I saw how everyone serves in the military, and I also wanted to contribute,” said Corp. Refael.
Due to Aaron’s unique situation, he encountered a number of bureaucratic hurdles on the way to reaching his goal. When he was in third grade, Aaron applied for Israeli citizenship but encountered numerous difficulties along the way. Despite these challenges, Aaron exhibited persistence and determination and received a citizenship in 2013.
After obtaining an Israeli citizenship, Aaron was not going to allow anything else to prevent him from becoming a combat soldier. When it became time for his Tzav Rishon (initial army interview), he discovered that he had a low medical profile that would not enable him to be a fighter. Aaron continued to fight for his dream and his determination paid off. He was eventually granted permission to become a combat soldier.
Eight months ago, Corp. Aaron Refael joined the Nahal Brigade and his dream finally became a reality. He has just completed advanced training and is now prepared to defend Israel’s borders.
Corporal Refael is the only combat soldier from his group of friends and is proud at how far he has come. He has had no problems integrating in the IDF (Zahal) as a member of a minority group and sees the IDF (Zahal) as an army that understands and caters to the needs of all different walks of life. “Specifically in the army, we see the equal and fair treatment of minorities who come from a variety of different backgrounds,” said Corp. Rafael.
Service in the IDF (Zahal) has proven to Corporal Refael how essential the army is for the State of Israel to exist and to thrive. He has learned the importance of maturity and responsibility that is necessary both as a soldier and as a human being.