A Druze mob yesterday set upon an Israeli military ambulance near the Syrian border, which was transporting wounded Syrians to a hospital in northern Israel. One of the patients, who the assailants accused of being an Islamist fighter, was killed in the attack.
Since the Syrian Civil War erupted, Israel has treated hundreds of wounded Syrians who have arrived at the country’s border, setting up a field hospital in the area. Those who are seriously injured are transported to Israeli hospitals for treatment. However, as an IDF ambulance travelled through the Druze border town of Majdal Shams yesterday, it was set upon by around 150 protestors, who pursued the convoy to nearby Neve Ativ, where they attacked the vehicle. Two Syrian patients were apparently beaten, one fatally.
The mob accused the wounded Syrians of being members of the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front. Earlier this month, it was reported that at least 20 Syrian Druze were massacred by al-Nusra. It prompted fears that the Syrian Druze, who have remained impartial during the Syrian Civil War, are being increasingly targeted. Thousands of Israeli Druze took part in rallies in Yarka and Daliat al-Carmel calling for international intervention on behalf of their Syrian brethren. Many have family in the Syrian areas being threatened by Islamist groups. Media reports have suggested that Israel is mulling the possibility of establishing a “safe zone” for refugees on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights and is preparing local communities to house Syrian Druze who may flee.
In response to yesterday’s incident, described by Israeli newspapers as a “lynch,” Sheik Mawfik Tarif, the religious leader of the Druze community in Israel condemned the attack, saying “This is not our way,” blaming “lawless people.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged that he would not let residents “tale the law into their own hands.” IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot said it was “inconceivable that IDF soldiers and [Syrian] wounded are attacked.”