JERUSALEM (JTA) – A mob of Druze-Israeli protesters killed a wounded Syrian fighter and seriously injured another in an attack on an Israeli ambulance.
The Druze protesters stopped the ambulance on Monday night near Majdal Shams on the Golan Heights as it was transporting the injured Syrians to an Israeli hospital. They dragged the men from the ambulance, beating one to death and seriously injuring the second. One of the soldiers escorting the ambulance also was injured.
The protesters believed the men were members of Syrian rebel groups, who have been targeting Druze-Syrians living near the border with Israel as part of the country’s four-year civil war.
“This is a very grave incident,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday. “We will not permit anybody to take the law into their own hands, and we will not allow anyone to hamper Israeli soldiers in the course of their duty.
“I call on the leaders of the Druze community, which is a magnificent community with which we have brotherhood, I call on them to calm things down and say to every Druze citizen in Israel, respect the law, respect the soldiers, do not take the law into their own hands.”
It was the second time on Monday that Druze protesters stopped an Israeli ambulance ferrying injured Syrians to the hospital. Earlier in the day, as an ambulance was driving by the Druze village of Hurfish, residents blocked the path of the ambulance and threw stones at it.
Members of the Druze community threatened Tuesday morning to continue to prevent ambulances transporting wounded Syrian rebels to travel to Israeli hospitals, Ynet reported. The spiritual leader of the community in Israel, Sheikh Moafaq Tarif, condemned the incident and called a meeting of Druze leadership in Israel to address the issue.
The IDF said it would increase security for wounded Syrians in Israeli hospitals.
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 IDF.
Last week, thousands of Druze-Israelis demonstrated on behalf of their Syrian counterparts, 20 of whom were murdered by ISIS the previous week. The Druze-Israeli community announced that it had collected $2.6 million for the Druze-Syrians to purchase weapons and urged the Israeli government to offer additional assistance.