Israeli Medical Resident Arrested for Naksa Day Violence

Dr. Mahmoud Mahmoud, who works at Rebecca Sieff Hospital in Safed, is accused among two others of hurling rocks at IDF soldiers on the anniversary of the 1967 Six Day War.

A medical resident from the Druze town of Majdal Shams on the Israel-Syria border was charged Thursday with aggravated assault for attacking a public servant and disorderly conduct as part of his involvement in the Naksa Day events last week.

Dr. Mahmoud Mahmoud, a 28-year-old who works at Rebecca Sieff Hospital in Safed, was indicted along with two other men for hurling rocks at Israel Defense Forces soldiers on Naksa Day, which marked the anniversary of the 1967 Six Day War.

naksa day - stone throwers
IDF Spokesman

The same charges were brought against Wajdi Frahat, 36, from the Buka'ata village in the Golan and Mahmoud Saleh, 42, from Majdal Shams.

According to the charges, during the Naksa Day events the three "hurled rocks, blocks, iron bars and bottles at IDF soldiers and policemen."

Mahmoud, who completed his medical studies in the University of Damascus, was arrested a few days after the Naksa Day events, but released after doubts arouse about his participation in the protests.

This week Mahmoud was arrested again after police gathered further evidence against him. The police collected dozens of photographs from the scene and set up a special investigation team. "We are not afraid of a confrontation with the residents," said a senior official from the northern police unit last week, adding that the police were prepared to bring all stone-throwers to justice. So far 17 residents of Majdal Shams have been arrested, and eight of them charged.

Mahmoud's lawyer, Majed Abu-Saleh, said he has not seen the details of the charges yet so he cannot respond to them. "My client strongly denies the charges brought against him. The fact that he was released after being arrested last week, even before he was brought before a judge, points to the weakness of the evidence. This is a huge injustice."

Druze doctor - no source - June 26, 2011

The Ministry of Health said Wednesday it will reconsider Mahmoud's employment in the hospital. Rebecca Sieff Hospital said it contacted the Health Ministry as soon as it heard about the suspicions, and that the matter is being investigated by the ministry's legal department.

Residents of the village have expressed anger over the arrests and have warned about a potential escalation if the arrests continue. "We feel like they are punishing us," a resident of the village who asked to remain unnamed said last weel about the arrests.

Other residents of the village said that the stone throwing on Naksa Day only came in response to IDF shooting of protesters on the Syrian side of the border.

Syria has reported that 23 people were killed in the clashes, but the IDF has disputed that number, saying that it is likely exaggerated and there is no way to verify it.