Several Druze combat soldiers have decided to protest what they say is the State of Israel's poor treatment of their community by giving back their Operation Protective Edge participation commendation.
One of the protesters is Captain (res.) Youssef Hassoun from Daliyat al-Karmel. "When I came back from the operation (Protective Edge) after 38 days, I found out that our water at home was cut off. They disconnected us, claiming we were illegally connected to the water network. We proved that we weren't ilegally connected, and only then did they reconnect us. I'm a law-abiding citizen, not a pirate," he said, "This situation saddens me. Why are they hurting us, all these years? We always feel like we have a big rights deficit. Many Druze homes don't have electricity."
Il Asa'ad, 40, from the village of Kisra, who fought in Gaza as well after being called in for reserve duty, said, "For decades we've been stepping up and fighting alongside Jews with great sacrifice, shoulder to shoulder and sword by sword. But at home we don't have infrastructure, we don't have electricity. It's a big problem."
Asa'ad, who is the head of the Druze forum at the Bayit Yehudi party, says that this kind of treatment is why Druze soldiers are giving back their Protective Edge commendations to the state.
Asa'ad's friend Youssef Alman, 30, from Kisra, said, "I left my wife and kids at home and went away to fight, but my house isn't connected to the water or power grids. I get them through a pirated connection to my neighbors. It's hurtful. How much can we suffer? We complain, get told that it's being taken care of, but nothing really is."
Absam Shami, 40, from Daliyat al-Karmel said, "There's no denying our commitment to the country, but we're fighting for equal rights. I didn't participate in Protective Edge, but I can certainly understand my friends' wishes to give back their commendations."
MK Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) came to Daliyat al-Karmel after hearing about the protest and met with its representatives. He expressed understanding for their plight, but tried to convince them to keep their commendations.
"We're blood brothers," said Slomiansky, "the Druze people fight fiercely for the country, suffer losses, but some of them don't have anywhere to come back to. No home, no electricity.
"They give the country their souls – but the country doesn't care about them because the Druze people are a small sector," he continued.
"We try to help them by promoting municipal outline plans and getting them approved, by approving building licenses, and we are also trying to get them connected to the electrical grid in an organized and legal manner. The system is quite slow and the protest is justified, but nonetheless I am against giving back the Protective Edge commendations. They earned them."