'Don’t serve in the occupation forces, don’t kill': Ayman Odeh tells Palestinians and Jews in Israeli army

'Don’t serve in the occupation forces, don’t kill': Ayman Odeh tells Palestinians and Jews in Israeli army
Ayman Odeh said Palestinians from the 1948 territories who have enlisted in the Israeli security forces must abandon their positions following a spike in Israeli attacks in the West Bank
2 min read
12 April, 2022
'Throw your weapons in their faces', Ayman Odeh told Palestinians serving in the Israeli security forces [Getty]

A Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset has called on Palestinians from within Israel's 1948 boundaries to abandon Israel's security forces.

Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Joint List, a coalition of four Palestinian political parties in Israel, urged young Palestinians who have enlisted in Israel's security forces to lay down their weapons, citing a recent spike in Israeli attacks in the West Bank.

He later clarified his remarks, saying that he only meant Palestinian citizens of Israel serving in the occupied West Bank, and also extended his call to Jewish members of the Israeli security forces and military in the Palestinian territory.

A number of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces,and dozens more were detained after a Palestinian man from Jenin went on a shooting rampage, killing three Israelis in a nightlife area of Tel Aviv last Thursday.

"I call on those who have enlisted, who are a small minority, between 1 and 1.5 percent, throw your weapons in their faces," Odeh said in a video posted on Sunday and filmed at occupied East Jerusalem's Damascus Gate.

"We don't need to be with them, not part of this crime,” he said, “but rather on the same side as our people to end the occupation."

“It’s a disgrace that a young Arab or the parents of a young Arab would agree to enlist and serve in the security forces, which are actually forces of the occupation,” he added.

Odeh's remarks outraged Israeli Knesset members from the right-wing Likud party, with former finance minister Israel Katz and former police minister Amir Ohana calling for him to be jailed.

Odeh later told Israel's Channel 12 that his call only applied to Palestinian citizens of Israel serving in the West Bank, not in the Israeli police, saying that Jews should also abandon service in the occupied territory.

On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett gave security agencies "full freedom" of operation in response to the attack.

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"There are not and will not be limits for this war," Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said.

Rights groups have repeatedly slammed Israeli forces for showing "disregard for human life" in the Palestinian territories, saying they have used  "reckless and unlawful lethal force".

Palestinian citizens of Israel make up 20 percent of the Israeli population and face systematic discrimination, with rights groups saying they are treated as second-class citizens and accusing Israel of implementing a system of apartheid both against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and within its 1948 borders.