Netanyahu Meets Leaders of Israel's Druze Public Amid High Tensions

Prime minister stresses need to prevent recurrence of events such as Monday's attack on an IDF ambulance carrying wounded Syrians.

Photo by Kobi Gideon / GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with leaders of Israel's Druze community on Wednesday, to discuss the tensions surrounding the recent events in the Golan Heights.

Also present at the meeting were Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, Interior Minister Gilad Erdan, and Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino.

Addressing the gathering, Netanyahu stressed the need to prevent the recurrence of events such as happened on Monday, when a mob of Druze protesters attacked an IDF ambulance that was transporting two Syrian war casualties to an Israeli hospital, killing one and critically injuring the other - as well as lightly wounding several IDF soldiers.

"Your sons, all of our sons, serve and fight in the IDF and defend the nation - which belongs to all of us," Netanyahu said. "All of us obey the law and all of us are loyal citizens, and if somebody breaks these rules, and takes the law into their own hands, it is our duty of course to condemn that and to make sure these lawbreakers will not turn such things to a norm."

The lethal attack was the second such assault in 24 hours against an ambulance carrying wounded Syrians. Concerns have been voiced among Israel's Druze public over medical assistance being proffered by Israel to Syrian militants that could be involved in hostilities against members of the Druze community in Syria. On Tuesday police arrested nine men suspected of taking part in the two attacks.

Sheikh Moafak Tarif, the leader of Israel's Druze community, thanked the prime minister and told him that the entire Druze public was united against lawbreakers in the Galilee and the Golan Heights, and reiterated his concern over the fate of the Syrian Druze – especially those living in the town of Khader, which is currently at the center of ongoing hostilities.

Former minister Salah Tarif, who served as Israel's first non-Jewish government minister, reiterated the Druze public's commitment to Israel. "Despite the fact that we do not wish Israel interfere in Syria, it is appropriate that every Druze person in the Middle East know that the State of Israel stands with the Druze community of Israel. The state's interest and the Druze public's interest are one and the same. The recent negative results of the past few days will not change our ways, or our commitment to the State of Israel," he said.