Diplomacy & defense
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited Druze community leaders to a meeting following the Monday attack by a frenzied Druze mob on an Israeli military ambulance taking two wounded Syrians to hospitals in Israel, an act roundly condemned by both the Israeli leader and the community elders.
Also Tuesday, Jordan stated it has no intention of letting Druze refugees to enter its territory as they seek to flee from jihadists.
While the country is prepared to extend humanitarian aid, yet letting Syrian nationals cross its border would represent an intervention in the bloody conflict, a government spokesman clarified.
One of the wounded was killed by the mob that beat him inside the ambulance, the other was wounded and taken to an Israeli hospital. Two Israeli soldiers accompanying the wounded were slightly wounded. One of them, an Israeli Druze, was still hospitalized Tuesday.
Pro-Assad television channels in Syria, reporting on the Monday late night attack on the Israeli side of the Golan, called the Druze assailants "our heroic countrymen." A report on the Syrian government's official news agency SANA said that "two terrorists from Jabhat al-Nusra were killed after the heroes of the occupied Golan blocked and attacked a Zionist ambulance transporting (the wounded) to one of the Israeli enemy's hospitals for treatment."
Israel, which has treated over 1,600 Syrians wounded in the four-year civil war, does not confirm or deny their identities, but some are clearly members of Islamist and jihadist rebel groups. Reports from Israeli hospitals where they are treated say some are isolated in separate rooms. The Druze minority, for its part, accuses Israel of aiding Islamists who kill and threaten their Druze brethren in Syria.
The spiritual leader of the Druze community in Israel, Sheikh Moafaq Tarif, strongly condemned the incident, saying, "This is not our way, and we are hurting over the criminal act done by lawbreakers, and call on authorities to act."
The sheikh held an emergency meeting of the Druze leadership in Israel on Tuesday morning at the Tomb of Nabi Shu'ayb.
"This is a criminal act, completely contrary to the values of the Druze community, which is known for helping others even when it comes to enemies," the statement issued after the meeting said. "We live in a state of law and those involved [in the incident] need to be brought to justice."
Ynet reported that following the attack on Monday night and another earlier in the day on an ambulance carrying a wounded Syrian - the army will increase security over dozens of wounded Syrians currently hospitalized in Israeli hospitals out of concern they will also be attacked by Druze protesters.
Netanyahu condemned the attack, warning that the government would not let residents “take the law into their own hands.”
“We will not let [residents] interfere with IDF soldiers’ duty to carry out their missions,” he said.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon pledged Tuesday to track down Druze rioters responsible for the "lynching."
"We won't be able to ignore it, and law enforcement authorities will deal with it heavy-handedly," he said in a statement.
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot meanwhile convened an emergency meeting over the incident.
“It’s inconceivable that IDF soldiers and [Syrian] wounded are attacked by Israeli citizens,” he told the media.
Earlier in the day the Druze villagers ran after a military ambulance and pelted it with stones, blocking its path, yet the driver managed to reach a nearby police station and obtain a police escort for the remainder of the journey.
On Saturday, around 30 Druze protested at the Galil hospital in Nahariya against medical treatment being given to wounded Syrians.
Police present at the scene managed to disperse the protesters without using force.
The Israeli Druze community is deeply concerned about the fate of the Druze minority in Syria, warning that about 500,000 of them are under threat. Israel Radio reported that an intensive fund-raising drive over the past week or so among the Druze has generated NIS8 million (almost $2 million).