Even as the ongoing war between Israel and Palestinian Hamas rages on, with over 1,500 reported deaths so far, two women of Gujarati origin are in the limelight as they took up arms in the Israeli Army.
The fathers of these two women, Jivabhai Muliyasia and Savdasbhai Muliyasia, hail from Kothadi village in Manavadar taluka of Junagadh. They left for Israel years ago and acquired Israeli citizenship. Muliyasias have settled in Israel for years. Now, their daughters serve in the Israeli Defense Forces, performing their duties even in the midst of this war.
Jivabhai Muliyasia, father of Nitsha, one of the two cousins, explained that she joined the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) two years ago as part of Israel’s compulsory military service system for all citizens above 18.
Speaking about his daughter, he said, “My daughter has been stationed at the borders of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt for the past two years. Currently, she is in Gush Den, the battleground from which Israeli forces are attacking Hamas in Gaza.”
Israel is home to a significant number of Gujarati people, drawn to the country for various reasons like trade, education, and employment. In Israel, there is a rule that requires both men and women, regardless of gender, to serve in the IDF for at least 24 to 32 months.
Bharatbhai Muliyasia, who lives in Kothadi village, which has a population of 1200 people, said that his two uncles, Jeevabhai and Savdasbhai Muliyasia, moved to Israel in 1989 and 1996, respectively, where they were granted Israeli citizenship, and each has a daughter serving as an officer in IDF. The family reassures that when the missile alert sirens sound, citizens take shelter in bunkers located in every home.
Ramdebhai Muliyasia, husband of village sarpanch Bharmiben, stated that numerous youths from Kothadi village had been working in Israel for 30-35 years. He emphasised that they were safe and secure in Israel.
The family of Zeevabhai lives in Tel Aviv. It is also learnt that during his trip to Israel, former Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani and his wife Anjaliben paid a visit to Jeevabhai’s residence.
Over 900 Israelis have been killed and more than 2,700 injured, while 560 Palestinians have lost their lives and over 2,400 have been injured so far in the war. Both countries are in a dire situation as missiles continue to rain down, filling the skies with smoke, and people’s lives hang in the balance.
Israel has deployed 100,000 soldiers along the Gaza border and has another 300,000 on standby. Defense Minister Yoav Galant has instructed officials to cut off food, water, electricity, and fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip. Nine Americans and ten Britons have also lost their lives, and there is no immediate end in sight to the war.