Carole Nuriel

Arab Israeli mobilization and solidarity in response to the Hamas massacre

The October 7th massacre perpetrated by Hamas constituted the deadliest single attack on Jews since the Holocaust. It is a result of decades of demonization and dehumanization by Hamas and other terrorist organizations of Jews, Zionists and Zionism.    

The majority of Oct. 7 victims were Jews, yet there were also significant numbers of Arabs, members of the Bedouin and Druze communities and individuals representing 40 different nationalities. Those taken hostage by Hamas include citizens of Israel, Argentina, China, France, Germany, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, the United States and other countries.   

The non-Jewish Israeli citizens impacted by the Oct. 7 massacre included at least 26 Bedouins  and 4 Druze, and there were at least 6 Bedouins among the over 239 people kidnapped.  

Following the Hamas’ massacre, there was an outpouring of solidarity and support from many around the world through donations, advocacy, demonstrations, and prayers for the hostages to be freed and for the safety and well-being of Israel and its people. 

Inside Israel, there was significant social mobilization from Jews and Arabs alike, with Arab society playing a major role in battling Hamas, conducting search and rescue efforts, volunteering and working to counter hate. 

In the wake of this terrible sacrifice, Arab Israelis are participating in and leading the fighting, with a particularly high conscription rate among the Druze community standing at over 80% of those eligible to enlist. Druze Lt. Colonel Salman Habaka became the highest ranking IDF fatality in the war, and a video of an IDF Bedouin patrol battalion vowing to fight Hamas went viral. 

Rahat, Israel’s largest Bedouin city, established a relief center and a large team of first responders, who treat medical emergencies and cooperate closely with their Jewish neighbors and colleagues on several initiatives, including providing kosher food for soldiers. Likewise, Jews and Arabs joined forces in initiatives all across Israel to search for missing Israelis and engage in peace-building.  

The commitment of the Arab-Israeli community to volunteer and mobilize is reflected in a study conducted by the Hebrew University which found that “the rate of volunteerism among the Arab Israeli population during the war reached 29%, a notable rise from the 19% recorded during the COVID crisis.” Another poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute found a surge in the sense of belonging of Arabs to the State of Israel. The report noted that “especially among Arabs, there has been a very sharp increase relative to the measurement taken in June 2023.” 

In the wake of Oct. 7, it is inspiring to see how the Jewish and Arab segments of society were able to put aside divides and work towards a shared commitment to eradicating Hamas and creating a more unified Israel.  

The unified response to Hamas’s massacre is a reminder of the vital role Israel’s Arab citizens play in protecting Israel and strengthening its society. This will be especially significant in the coming months and years, as Israel will undoubtedly resume the past year’s deliberation over its future as a Jewish and democratic state. It is vital that this moment serve as a reminder of the commitment and contributions of Israel’s Arab citizens and the necessity of fully and equally including them in Israel’s future.  

About the Author
Carole Nuriel is the director of the Anti-Defamation League's Israel office in Jerusalem.
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