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Son of Greek Orthodox priest who supports IDF enlistment attacked in Nazareth
By ARIEL BEN SOLOMON
07/12/2013
Hadash activist arrested for beating in Nazareth; Danon calls for end of incitement by Arab MKs.
 
Nazareth Police arrested a 21-year-old Hadash activist for allegedly attacking the son of a Greek Orthodox priest because he supports enlistment of Christian Arabs in the IDF.

The son was about to be drafted into the IDF.

Police released the suspect to house arrest for three days and gave him a restraining order.

“My wife is closed up in the house and my second son refuses to leave the house,” said the priest, Gabriel Nadaf, according to Israel’s Channel 2.

At around 7 p.m. on Friday, the suspect allegedly harassed and threatened Nadaf’s youngest son, and then pushed and hit him. The suspect then allegedly chased the boy with a stick and beat him severely on the head and body. The police arrived and arrested the suspected assailant.

Nadaf’s son is being treated at the English Hospital in Nazareth.

“As I call for integration in Israeli society, extremists are trying to divide and tear and incite against me,” the priest said. “The incitement of verbal threats has passed yesterday into physical violence as their goal is to intimidate me and my family.”

Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon (Likud) spoke with Father Nadaf, who said that the suspect is an Arab Hadash activist. Danon later spoke with Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, demanding an end to incitement from Arab Knesset members.

“Words become deeds; the incitement of Arab Knesset members must stop,” Danon said. “The situation where Father Nadaf, his family, and Christians who want to serve in the IDF live in fear and suffer from attacks and harassment is unacceptable and tough action needs to be taken against the instigators and perpetrators alike.”

In the past year, the number of Christians enlisting in the IDF doubled. Danon and the IDF have been encouraging Christian enlistment by holding activities in schools and speaking with families and youth.

Upper Nazareth mayor Shimon Gafsou visited the priest’s son in the hospital and condemned the violent attack.

“Attacking the son of Father Nadaf began with incitement and could have ended much worse.

Israel must give full backing to those in the Christian community who wish to enlist,” Gafsou said, according to Channel 2.

Gafsou added that significant measures needed to be taken against such incitement.

Father Nadaf is openly active on behalf of the integration of Arab Christians into Israel’s mainstream and is the spiritual leader of a forum for the enlistment of Christian youth in the IDF. He has been excommunicated by the Orthodox Church Council, subjected to death threats and has been the target of verbal attacks from Arab MKs. Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid) condemned the attack on his Facebook page on Saturday, and said he expected the Arab parties in the Knesset to condemn it as well.

“The crazed incitement of some of the elected Arab representatives toward Father Gabriel and against the idea of Arabs volunteering for national service has found its expression in this criminal, violent act,” Peri wrote.

Peri heads the committee that has drafted legislation aiming to equalize the state’s burdens.

Herb Keinon and Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.
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