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ALM Feature

After battling Hamas, Druze leaders ask Israel for more than special status law

In mourning for community victims killed by the militant group in Gaza, Druze patience is wearing thin toward a law discriminating against them.
Fallen Druze

BAQA AL-GHARBIYYEH, Israel — After at least six Druze soldiers were killed in the surprise Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7, leaders from the Arabic-speaking minority told Al-Monitor that they reject the government’s intention to legislate a law offering special status to their community, demanding instead that the coalition amend the so-called Nation-State Law, which discriminates against them. 

Emphasizing the significant contribution by the Druze to Israel’s security, several leaders of the secretive offshoot of Shia Islam said they are not interested in a declarative bill. Rather, they want real, concrete changes in government policy. 

Numbers published at the end of 2021 put the number of Druze in Israel at 150,000, most of them in the northern part of the country. Around 125,000 hold Israeli citizenship. Druze have served in the Israeli military since 1957, including in senior command positions. 

The deaths of Druze soldiers and officers in the Hamas-Israel war has prompted impassioned calls to revoke the so-called Nation-State Law, adopted 62-58 by the Knesset in 2018, giving only Jews the right to national self-determination in the State of Israel. It also downgrades Arabic from an official state language to one with "special status." Arabic is spoken by Israel’s Arab minority, including the Druze, who constitute 21% of the population. 

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