Following several days of clashes in the Galilee and the Golan Heights, and amid warnings from the Druze community about potential escalation if wind turbine construction resumed, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to halt work begining on Sunday. This decision was reached after a late-night assessment of the situation, going against the stance of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who advocated for construction to proceed.
During the assessment, input was provided by Head of the National Security Council Tzachi Hanegbi, Shin Bet Chief Ronen Bar and Police Commissioner Ya'akov Shabtai, who all advised the prime minister against allowing work to take place. Netanyahu eventually acquiesced to their advice. Ben-Gvir acknowledged the threats voiced by the Druze community, warning of a potential intafada, but emphasized the importance of not succumbing to such threats, particularly those made over the weekend.
Netanyahu held discussions with Sheikh Mawafak Tarif, the leader of the Druze community, and conveyed the decision to honor his request by refraining from recommencing work in the Golan Heights until after the Feast of Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha), which starts on Tuesday. Additionally, Netanyahu expressed his intention to use the holiday period to engage in discussions with community dignitaries, with work resuming on the following Sunday.
A statement released by the Prime Minister's Office emphasized Netanyahu's directive to take action in the coming days to "address the planning and housing challenges faced by Druze settlements in Carmel and the Galilee. These challenges have adversely affected the entire Druze community, including the valuable contributions of young individuals who have been discharged from the IDF and continue to contribute to the state's security."
Tarif said on Sunday: "Our protest to obtain the rights and equality of the community is just and legitimate, especially for the sake of the youth of the community and their future.
"I was happy to hear about the Prime Minister's announcement regarding the promotion of solutions to the housing and construction crisis in the Druze villages. I thank the Prime Minister and hope to take advantage of the coming days to promote real, applicable and real solutions," Tarif said.
"The IDF is outside of any controversy or protest. Our young men serve with honor and genius and will continue to make a force there and be partners in the national burden in protecting the security of the country. This is their duty and their right. I wish the public and civil systems would learn from the IDF how to maintain equality in practice," Tarif added.
During the discussion regarding the ongoing protest measures, Tarif had issued a warning on Friday evening, stating, "We are on the brink of an escalation in the struggle. We are facing challenging times, and this uprising is justified." However, he also emphasized the importance of upholding the law and protecting public property, urging: "Let us safeguard the law and public property." The majority of those present, including numerous clerics, responded to the sheikh's words with cheers.
There was audible booing in the crowd directed toward Minister Ben-Gvir, who had previously declared on Thursday, "The work in the Golan will persist until the eve of the Feast of Sacrifice, pause during the holiday, and resume immediately afterward."
A significant number of members of the Druze community took part in the protest in the Golan Heights on Wednesday, estimated in the thousands. The demonstrations turned violent, resulting in injuries to ten protesters, with five of them sustaining serious injuries.
Law enforcement authorities swiftly responded to the unrest, dispatching a large number of police forces to the protest site. The officers had to address various violations of order committed by the protesters, including the burning of tires, hurling stones, launching fireworks and even throwing Molotov cocktails at the police.
Simultaneously, in a separate incident on the same day, hundreds of protesters attempted to forcibly enter the police station located in the village of Ma'sade. This illicit act involved the use of live ammunition, stone-throwing and the launching of fireworks. The police officers successfully repelled the attackers and prevented the breach.