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Druze Soldiers Quitting Israeli Military Over Controversial Nation-State Law

© Flickr / Israel Defense ForcesIDF Soldiers During Operation Protective Edge
IDF Soldiers During Operation Protective Edge - Sputnik International
The Israeli military continues to deal with fallout from soldiers belonging to minority groups after the country passed a “nation-state” law declaring that Jews, and only Jews, have the right to self-determination in the country.

The law significantly restricts the rights of Palestinians living in Israel, Masud Ghnaim, an Israeli-Arab member of Knesset, told Sputnik News.

But Palestinians, both Muslim and Christian, are not the only minority group in the country and therefore not the only ones affected by the nation-state law. There are also Bedouins, Druze, Circassians, Arameans and more peoples within its borders.

Many of them, just like Jewish Israelis, are conscripted into service with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). But since the law passed, several high-profile incidents with Druze soldiers have lit up social media.

IDF Captain Amir Jmall announced that he would quit the military, posting an open letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and calling on Druze community leaders to push for an end to forced service, according to a Monday article in Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

The Times of Israel reported that Jmall has been suspended for 14 days because of the Facebook post. 

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"His commanders made it clear to him that he was expected to refrain from publishing the post, which identified himself as an officer in the IDF," the IDF said in a statement. "There is no place in the IDF for political discourse of any kind."

"Why should I serve the state of Israel, the state that I, my brothers and my father have served out of devotion and love for our homeland… [I]n the end, what do we get? To be second class citizens," Jmall wrote on Facebook.

Meanwhile, a second Druze IDF officer, Shady Zidan, likewise announced his intention to quit the military on Facebook.

"Until this day I have given the state my soul, I have risked my life. Until this day I stood by the state's flag with pride and saluted it. Until this day I sung the national anthem ‘Hatikvah' because I was sure that this is my country and I am equal to everyone," Zidan wrote. "But today, today I refused for the first time in my service to salute the flag, I refused for the first time to sing the national anthem."

Now it appears the IDF is in damage control mode. Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot recently met with Druze religious leader Shaykh Mowafaq Tarif. After the meeting, Tarif called for politics, including debates over the nation-state law, to be left out of the IDF.

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