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One in 16 Druze Men Above Age 18 is a Disabled IDF Veteran

Data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics show that 83.8% of Druze households participate in the labor market, but the percentage registered in welfare departments is 36% higher than in the general population | Israel has the third largest Druze community in the world, after Syria and Lebanon

תערוכה בכיכר הבימה לזכר הנופלים הדרוזים במלחמה (צילום: יהל פרג')
Exhibition at Habima Square in Tel Aviv in memory of Druze soldiers who have been killed during the current war (Photo: Yahel Faraj)
By Yaniv Sharon

One out of every 16 Druze men aged 18 and above is a disabled IDF veteran according to data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics on the Druze population on the occasion of the  Druze holiday of ziyarat al-Nabi Shuaib in late April. According to the data, of the 67,400 disabled IDF soldiers (as of 2022), 3,400 (5.0%) are Druze. The data also reveal the housing shortage in which the community finds itself.

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, the Druze community in Israel, numbering about 152,000 people, is the third largest Druze community in the world after Syria and Lebanon. Of that population, 80.5% live in Israel’s Northern District dispersed among 17 localities. Two localities in the Haifa District, Daliyat al-Carmel and Isfiya, are home to 18.6% of the Druze population. Most Druze settlements are homogeneous or have an absolute majority of Druze. In Maghar, the third largest settlement in terms of Druze population, Druze make up 57% of the population. The Druze population growth rate was 1.1% in 2022. About 23.8% of Druze are aged 0-14, compared to 27.5% amongst Jews, 32.3% amongst Muslims and 20.6% amongst Christians.

On average, a Druze household contains 3.77 persons, second only to an Israeli Muslim household which contains 4.3 persons. In contrast, the average number of children per Druze woman is 1.85 and the population growth rate is 1.1%, causing the average household to be larger than the average Israeli family. This indicates a housing shortage amongst Druze with many young families being unable to establish homes separate from their extended family.

Data from the Registry of People with Disabilities brings to light the hidden cost of Druze participation in Israeli security forces. A study conducted in 2022 shows that out of the 67,400 disabled IDF soldiers 3,400 (5.0%) were Druze. The rate of disabled IDF veterans amongst Druze aged 18 and above is 31.7 per 1,000, a number significantly higher than the rate among Jews and others aged 18 and above (11.9 per 1,000). A significant gap has also been found amongst Druze men compared to the rest of the population (62.6 versus 22.5 per 1,000). In other words, one out of every 16 Druze men aged 18 and above is a disabled IDF veteran, compared to one in 44.4 amongst Jewish men aged 18 and above. In general, about 20,400 Druze are registered as having disabilities. The two most common types of disabilities amongst the Druze are physical disabilities and chronic illnesses.

The study has also shown that 83.8% of Druze households include at least one member employed outside of the home, a higher percentage compared to Israeli Muslims (79.3%) and Israeli Christians (77.7%). However, the share of Druze men participating in the labor force reached 66.2% in 2023 (compared to 63.7% among Muslims and 68.0% among Arab Christians). Druze women participate in the labor force at a rate of 47.4%, compared to 34% among Muslim women and 56.7% among Christian women.

In 2023, 65,600 Druze were employed, an employment rate of 54.9% of the entire Druze population. Of those, 28.3% worked as sales and service workers and 23.2% worked as skilled workers in industry, construction and other trades. Another 16.6% worked in local administration, public administration, security and social security, while 13.5% worked in education, and 13.4% in manufacturing. In other words, most Druze workers worked in professions with relatively low wages. Considering the average salary of these professions, the Druze are a poorer population than the general Israeli population.

The data also show that in 2022 there were 24,100 Druze registered with the social services departments of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Security. The rate of registration amongst Druze was 161.5 per 1,000, which was higher than the registration rate among the general population of 118.2 per 1,000, a gap of 36%. According to the data,  53.6% of registered Druze were women and 46.4% were men.

The data also revealed that the percentage of Druze using social services was significantly higher than the general population in the 25-64 age group (44.1% vs. 34.5%, respectively) and in the 65-74 age group (by a smaller margin).

An examination of the Druze education system reveals that 1.8% of Druze have never received formal schooling. Of those who have: 1.2% have not received a diploma, 26.6% had primary or middle school education, 11.0% completed high school without a matriculation certificate, 37.4% received a matriculation certificate, 4.0% received a certificate of completion of a post-secondary school that is not an academic certificate, and 13.1% received an academic degree or academic certificate.

Of those Druze who did continue schooling after secondary school, 43.5% continued their undergraduate studies within eight years of graduating from high school, compared to 34.6% of high school graduates in the general Arab Israeli education system. The number of Druze students decreased by 0.2% last year when compared to the years before. However, since the year 2000 the number of Druze students has increased 3.5-fold, although the gender gap amongst students persists. Only 26.3% of Druze men continued their undergraduate studies within eight years of graduating from high school, compared to 59.3% of Druze women.

In 2021, the rate of convictions in criminal trials amongst the Druze population was about 301 per 100,000. This rate is higher than the rate among all non-Druze residents of Israel (about 271 per 100,000 people). The rate of prosecutions amongst the Druze population in 2021 was about 329 per 100,000.

This article was translated from Hebrew by Ronen Cohen.

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