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December 23, 2020 10:22 am

Israeli Air Force Appoints First Druze Colonel

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avatar by Israel Hayom /

Israel Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin speaks at the Israel Aviation Conference at Airport City, on May 02, 2018. Photo: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90. – The Israeli Air Force on Tuesday promoted Awad Suleiman to the rank of colonel, making him the first Druze to attain this rank in the IAF. IAF Commander Amikam Norkin also named Suleiman head of the air force’s Drone Warfare Unit.

While Suleiman is the first Druze to attain the rank of colonel in the IAF, recent years have seen Druze citizens serving in more and more elite air force roles. In September 2020, Lt. Col. A. made history by being appointed the first Druze commander of the IAF’s Shaldag (“Kingfisher”) commando unit.

The appointment made A. the first Druze commander of any of the IDF’s four elite units: Sayeret Matkal, its top special forces unit; Shaldag; the Shayetet 13 naval commandos; and Unit 669, the air force’s combat search and rescue unit.

A year and a half ago, in June 2019, Lt. G. became the IAF’s first Druze pilot upon successfully completing the 178th’s pilot training course.

In addition to welcoming minorities into the upper ranks of the IAF, Norkin also appointed the first woman to serve as bureau chief to the IAF commander when he named Maj. N. to the sensitive post. N. became a navigator on F-16 fighter jets in 2016.

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