JERUSALEM (JTA) – Three more Druze Israelis have been arrested in two attacks on ambulances carrying wounded Syrians to Israeli hospitals, including one that left a Syrian dead.
The arrests early on Thursday come a day after the arrests of five people from the village of Majdal Shams on the Golan Heights, where a mob of Druze-Israeli protesters on Monday night dragged two wounded Syrian fighters from the ambulance, beating one to death and seriously injuring the second, and the arrests of four others believed to have been involved in an attack earlier Monday on an ambulance driving by the Druze village of Hurfish, where residents blocked the path of the ambulance and threw stones at it.
Two Israeli soldiers also were injured in the incidents.
A gag order has been imposed by police on the investigation into the incidents.
The Druze attackers believed the injured men were members of Syrian rebel groups, which have been targeting Druze-Syrians living near the border with Israel as part of the country’s four-year civil war.
Israel treats wounded from the civil war in the field and at local hospitals regardless of what side they are fighting for. More than 1,600 wounded Syrians have been treated in Israeli hospitals during the civil war, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Wednesday night with Druze community leaders, where he expressed appreciation for Druze contributions to the state and called for an end to violence against Israeli soldiers.
“Your sons, all of our sons, serve and fight in the IDF and defend our state. We all uphold the law and we are all loyal citizens. And if there is someone who deviates from these rules and takes the law into his hands, it is our duty, of course, to condemn this and see to it that these offenders do not become the norm. This is something that we must prevent – the recurrence of such events,” Netanyahu said.
“I think that it is also especially important to prevent attacks on IDF soldiers or hindering them as they carry out their missions. We have been successful in keeping Israel out of the anarchy that is happening around us. We did so because we always knew measure things and act prudently. This is, and will remain, our policy,” he said.
Druze leaders have condemned the attack.
Sheik Muafaq Tarif, spiritual leader of Druze in Israel, said in response: “Our faith, traditions and values are against attacking an ambulance or the injured. This is not our way. We did not educate for this. We strongly condemn what happened and of course we hope that you will continue to wisely and prudently lead on this issue. We are at your service.”