Israeli-Arab Rescue Unit: 'Our Goal? Saving Human Lives'
NES TZIONA, Israel -- With all the hatred in the Middle East, we found a hopeful story of Israeli Arabs training with Israelis to save lives.
This is a unique volunteer search-and-rescue team from the town of Abu Gosh. Israeli Imad Jaber is a Muslim Arab who leads the group.
"We rescue people. It doesn't matter gender, race or religion," Jaber told CBN News. "Our goal is to save human lives. It doesn't matter if it's a Jew or an Arab, American [or someone] from Russia."
At the Home Front Command drill site, the search-and-rescue team practices its life-saving techniques, such as rescuing people from beneath a collapsed building.
But in the current environment, with Palestinians carrying out deadly attacks against Israeli Jews, rescuing people may not be their greatest challenge.
"It's not simple and it's not easy, especially in these very difficult times," Jaber explained. "On one hand, we are Arabs, Muslims, and we're residents of the state, citizens of the State of Israel that raise up a unit like this."
There are some 60 men in the unit and another 42 waiting to join. It's an effort most Israeli Arabs wouldn't even attempt.
"To raise up a unit like this takes courage, it needs people that are humane," Jaber continued. "We're not fighting against anyone. We don't kill anyone, but the opposite. We are saving human lives."
Even as civilian volunteers, they are proud to wear the Israeli army uniform.
"We're wearing the uniforms of the IDF. That's an honor for us," he said.
Abu Ghosh is about 6 miles from Jerusalem. It's known for fantastic restaurants with a large Israeli Jewish clientele and a one-time world record for a nearly 9,000-pound plate of hummus ground chickpea spread that's practically an Israeli staple.
The town is located near biblical Kiryat Jearim, where the Ark of the Covenant once rested.
Today, Abu Ghosh is known as the only Israeli Arab town along the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv corridor that supported Israel during its War of Independence.
Lt. Col. Yigal Dahan is the Jewish Home Front commander who oversees the group.
"This company is Israeli civilians from the Arab sector that decided actually to be partners, to be good citizens of the state, to be partners in all that happens here -- actually to take responsibility for themselves in time of emergency," Dahan told CBN News.
Dahan is very proud of their hard work and service.
"I think they've taken a courageous step," he explained. "Today, in principle, we talk about something scary and here we find a shared cause that is saving lives and together it doesn't matter which race, which religion, which gender. I think it's a very important message in general for everything that's happening in this country."