Greek-Orthodox Christian priest Father Gabriel Naddaf, who has led a public campaign for Christian Arab IDF enlistment, is facing allegations that he has attempted to seek sexual favors from youths he came into contact with.
Naddaf is scheduled to be one of the honorees on Independence Day who will light torches to begin the celebrations on Wednesday evening.
The allegations, which also included claims that Nadaf together with a Palestinian associate helped arrange entry visas for Palestinians into Israel for illicit business purposes and sexual favors, were reported by Channel 2 on Sunday night.
Nadaf denied the allegations, saying that “criminal elements in the community” had tried to frame him, and gained access to his Facebook accounts and cellphone to incriminate him by corresponding in his name.
In 2012, Naddaf established the Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum – Christian Empowerment Council to encourage Christian integration into Israeli society and increase Christian enlistment to the IDF.
One soldier told Channel 2 that Naddaf had at one time questioned him about the size of his penis and had suggested to meet up with him and hike together.
To another youth he was in contact with, the priest wrote on Facebook “I’m always impressed by you, I don’t know what comes over me every time I see you in uniform, I don’t know, I feel weird. Masculine.”
A female soldier said Naddaf sent her lots of smiling emoticons and kisses in their correspondence, and that he asked her if she would go away with him to a guest house.
However, no complaints have been filed to the police regarding Naddaf.
In response to the allegations and referring to Channel 2’s sources, Naddaf said, “Criminal elements in the community, together with those who were envious of the success of my life’s work twisted these people in order to prevent me from receiving recognition for my contribution to Christian Arab enlistment.
“I have not sexually harmed anyone, I didn’t try and harm anyone, and I didn’t try and arrange entry visas for Palestinian.
These hostile elements, whom I unfortunately trusted and allowed them to work close to me, exploited my trust and took control of my Facebook pages and even the messages on my phone in order to write lies in my name.”
Naddaf said he had himself filed a complaint with the police against those he suspects of trying to frame him.
Culture Minister Miri Regev publicly backed Naddaf, saying that as long as law enforcement prove otherwise, Naddaf will participate in the Independence Day torch lighting ceremony.