Netanyahu Condemns Deadly Druze Attack on Wounded Syrian Militants

'We are not part of the anarchy spreading around us,' says PM; Leaders of Israel's Druze community distance themselves from attack.

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The ambulance damaged by protesters, June 22, 2015.
The ambulance damaged by protesters, June 22, 2015.Credit: Gil Eliyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned on Tuesday the assault carried out by a mob of Druze protesters on an Israeli ambulance and its military escort, which were transferring two wounded Syrian militants to an Israeli hospital. One of the militants was beaten to death and the other gravely wounded in the attack that took place Monday night.

"We won't let anyone take the law into their own hands, and we won't let anyone interfere with IDF soldiers carrying out their missions," said Netanyahu, speaking at a conference in Tel Aviv. "We will locate those who carried out this attack, and justice will be dealt. We are a law-abiding nation, not part of the anarchy that is spreading around us."

Netanyahu also called on the leaders of Israel's Druze community to help calm the tensions. "Every Druze citizen in Israel must be told – respect the law, respect IDF soldiers, don't take the law into your own hands. This is what I ask of our Druze brothers, this is what I ask of every Israeli citizen," he added.

This was the second time in 24 hours that protesters attacked an ambulance carrying wounded Syrians. Earlier on Monday, Druze residents from the village of Horfish in northern Israel attacked another military ambulance carrying wounded Syrians, demanding to check whether the passengers on board belonged to a rebel organization that has been targeting Druze in the civil war across the border.

Druze leaders convene

Dozens of Druze leaders convened on Tuesday morning at the shrine of Nabi Shu'ayb in the Galilee. The pre-scheduled meeting was planned as a day of study, but took on a different tone due to the unfolding events. Sheikh Muafak Tarif, the community's religious leader, described the men involved in the assault as a small group "that does not represent us – that is not our way."

Jaber Hamoud, the head of the Sajour Regional Council and the chairman of the forum of Druze and Circassian councils, called the incident "planned" and said its objective was to inject Israel's Druze into the Syrian civil war. He said the Druze leaders expect an apology be issued by the heads of Majdal Shams. "They must see that we aren't fools. This attempt to create havoc won't pass unanswered."

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon also condemned the assault. "The attack that took place yesterday in the Golan Heights - an assault on an ambulance that resulted in the murder of one man and the wounding of three, among them an IDF officer and a soldier – was a serious incident of utmost severity, which will not be taken in stride, and will be dealt with heavy-handedly by law enforcement," said Ya'alon.

"This incident runs counter to Israel's values and morals - which find themselves expressed in the provision of humanitarian assistance to wounded Syrians and to anybody who needs it," he added.

Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot also addressed the event during a briefing he held with Aviv Kochavi, the commander of the IDF's Northern Division. "It's untenable that IDF soldiers and war casualties will be assaulted by citizens of Israel.

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