Staff Sergeant Tamir Nabuani
Reproduction Photo: Ido Becker

Bereaved father: Druze are equal only in IDF

Nawaf Nabuani of Galilee village of Julis, who lost his son during military navigation, says motivation among his community to serve in army skyrocketing despite recent tensions

The first day of 2008 began as a regular day for Nawaf Nabuani, a junior high school teacher from the Druze town of Julis in the western Galilee. He entered the ninth grade classroom to teach mathematics, and during the break, the cellular phone in his pocket began ringing. A young man asked him about his son Tamir, a soldier serving in the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit.


"I wasn't worried at the time, I knew Tamir was in the middle of a navigation. I was more concerned about his brother, who was training with the Nahal Brigade," Nawaf recounts.


As the class ended, he noticed that the same young man had called once again. And then his oldest son called as well. "Dad," he told him, "people are calling me and asking about Tamir. Has something happened?"


Nawaf tried to check with the team commander, but got no answers. He already knew that the town-major people were making their way to his house.


"I entered another class, but I could no longer think straight. I had a feeling that something bad was about to happen. When one of the teachers came and asked me to come to the principal's room, my legs shook. I saw the town-major and others, and I knew that the worst piece of news of all has arrived."


Several hours earlier, Tamir's commanders had failed to locate him on his communication device, which he carried with him to a lone navigation on Mount Negev. The Israel Air Force rescue unit was dispatched to the area and found his body at the foot of the cliff. The next day he was laid to rest at his village.


There are now four military graves in the small grave plot belonging to the Nabuani family in the Julis cemetery. Walking between them, Nawaf feels the pride of someone who has made a breakthrough. Here is the relative who was the first Druze soldier in the paratroopers' unit. Here are other cousins who fell in Israel's wars. Here is Tamir's grave.


"If, God forbid, we are forced to dig another grave," he says, "there won't be any room here. The village had 23 fallen soldiers since 1956, but has yet to have a military cemetery. We're working on it."


No regrets

Tamir's road to Sayeret Matkal was not an easy one. In the middle of the ninth grade he decided to join the military boarding school at Haifa's Reali High School, and although he registered late, he managed to fill the gaps. He then passed the exams and the pre-conscription evaluations.


"I told him, 'No matter where you are, in which reconnaissance company, the only important thing is that you are among the best,'" the bereaved father says.


"I trusted him. He was a strong and responsible guy. Since the age of 12 he used to work in the summer and provide for himself almost all alone. He worked for a contractor. He would climb a four-story scaffolding.


"I told him not to tell many people that he was part of the commando unit, so he didn’t. I would just ask him each time if he was healthy, he told me he was, that the training was going well."


Only after his personal tragedy, Nawaf began hearing stories about his son.


"His commander from the recruit service came and told us about a fire which broke out in a tent. Everyone began shouting and call the commanders. Tamir, with a blanket, stood up and put out the fire. He was then taken to the hospital because he inhaled smoke. But this is how he was.


"The service at Sayeret Matkal was good for him. It's not just a place which develops fighting abilities, but the mind as well. I had no regrets about sending him there. I still have no regrets. Don’t forget that we believe in faith, that it's all written from above and no one can change it. It calms the person down."


Many picture of Tamir hang on the house's walls in Julis. From the military boarding school, from the different stages he took. One of the walls carries a large oil painting and a poem in Arabic. The son who died asks his mother not to be angry over his departure, not to cry too much. And if the neighbors ask, she should tell them he will be back.


"Of course he won't be back," Nawaf adds, translating the song into Hebrew.


'Peki'in events did not hurt motivation'

Three Druze soldiers from the Galilee have died in less than two years. The first day of the Second Lebanon War saw the death of Wassim Nazal, of the village of Yanuh, in one of the Hummer jeeps attacked in the kidnapping incident. In January, Nabuani was killed during a navigation, and last month, Sayef Bisan of the village of Jat, was killed in a battle with terrorists near Kissufim.


Despite all this, the Druze public reports of particularly high motivation – more than 85% of the young Julis residents are inducted to the army, and more than 65% join combat units.


Nawaf Nabuani says this is the community and family's heritage. "The young see the adults and want to be like them. In our family alone there are 23 officers today, two of them lieutenant-colonels. The young ones see and learn."


Two of Nawaf's older sons, Kamal and Sari, serve as career officers. The youngest son, Nawaf hopes, will follow in his brother's footsteps and may even be accepted into Sayeret Matkal. In the recent war, when Tamir had just joined the IDF, four of the family members were in the army, some of them reservists, some career offers and some regular soldiers.


The recent tensions – led by the violent events in Peki'in – did not harm the motivation, the bereaved father says.


"The Defense Ministry and the IDF are the only places in Israel where Druze are really considered completely equal," he says. "A Druze soldier can reach any unit in the IDF."


He opposes demonstrations and aggressiveness, but calls on the State to close the gaps. "No one deludes himself that one day all the gaps will be filled. But the government ministers must do their homework, must find out what is missing and do everything for us to receive these things."


פרסום ראשון: 05.07.08, 13:26
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