For the second time in 24 hours, some 150 Druze protesters attacked and hurled stones at a military ambulance transporting wounded Syrian rebels near Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights on Monday night, killing one of the rebels.
Two IDF soldiers who were also in the ambulance, one of them an army doctor, were lightly hurt in the attack. Both Syrians were in serious condition when arriving in Israel. After the attack on the ambulance, both rebels were in critical condition, one of them succumbing to his wounds on the way to the hospital. The two soldiers were taken to the Ziv Medical Center in Safed, while the Syrians were airlifted to the Ramban Medical Center in Haifa.
The ambulance, accompanied by a Military Police patrol car, was making its way to Kiryat Shmona when it encountered the Druze protesters near Majdal Shams, where they hurled stones at it. The ambulance managed to escape, and protesters chased it to Neve Ativ.
An IDF source said the Druze protesters were able to lay their hands on the wounded Syrians, and says the attack likely worsened their condition.
One of the soldiers saw an improvement in his medical condition overnight and is expected to be released from Rambam hospital on Tuesday, while the other was released overnight.
The surviving Syrian who was was in the ambulance during the attack, suffered serious wounds but was considered stable after an operation late Monday night.
Large police forces that arrived at the scene closed off the area as the protesters started clashing with IDF and Border Police forces.
Pro-Assad TV channels in Syria who reported on the attack called the Druze protesters "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."
An IDF official denied that the wounded rebels were members of the Islamist organization Jabhat al-Nusra.
The Druze protesters were threatening that they would not allow Syrian wounded into Israel for treatment. They called for a protest outside the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya where other wounded Syrians are hospitalized.
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 will hold an emergency meeting of the Druze leadership in Israel on Tuesday morning at the Tomb of Nabi Shu'ayb.
Members of the Druze community criticized the IDF for failing to learn from a similar incident early Monday morning and chose to once again go through Druze villages with the military ambulance without taking the proper security measures.
Following the two attacks, the IDF will increase security over dozens of wounded Syrians currently hospitalized in Israeli hospitals out of concern they will also be attacked by Druze protesters.
Twice in 24 hours
In the early hours of Monday morning, several dozens of residents in the Druze local council of Hurfeish in the Upper Galilee attacked a military ambulance that passed through the village, also transporting wounded Syrians to the Galilee Medical Center. Suspects have yet to be arrested.
The residents demanded to know who was in the ambulance. Once the ambulance managed to get away, some of the residents started chasing it and throwing stones at it and blocked its way.
The ambulance driver was able to get away from the checkpoint, but hit one of the residents, a 54-year-old Hurfeish native. He was moderately wounded and taken to the operating room.
The military ambulance finally managed to reach the police station in Ma'alot, and from there it was escorted by police to the hospital in Nahariya.
Those in the ambulance, two soldiers and two wounded Syrians, were not wounded, and the army said that they viewed this as a serious incident. Officials involved in the incident said that the attackers were a handful of delinquents.
The heads of the Druze community in Israel condemned Sunday night's attack, as well as the rumors being spread about the identity of the wounded Syrians that Israel is treating.
In the last few weeks, following tensions in Syria between the rebels and Druze residents, security was beefed up at the hospital by the police. On Saturday night, a demonstration by Druze citizens protesting the continuing treatment of wounded rebels was broken up.
Ahiya Raved, Yoav Zitun and Roi Kais contributed to this report.