The IDF ambulance was attacked Monday night by Druze who claim that Israel is helping members of the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliated group who recently killed some 20 Syrian Druze. Tensions have been high in the north since many of Israel's Druze have family who are at risk in Syria.
Leaders of Israel's Druze community in the north released a statement Tuesday afternoon, condemning the attack.
"This was a criminal act that completely goes against the values of the Druze community. Any protest activities have to be within the boundaries of the law," they said in the statement. "Those involved in the incident must be brought to justice."
The incident also drew a sharp response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who demanded that community leaders call for calm while insisting that those responsible would be captured and brought to justice.
Druze community leaders also said in the statement that such violent acts are likely to harm Syria's Druze despite the intent of helping them. They also noted however, that Syrian rebels in Israeli hospitals declared in media interviews that they would attack the Druze upon their return to Syria. "They (Israel) are providing fertile ground for criminal and uncivilized acts."
In light of developing events within the Druze community, police security has been increased in a Nahariya hospital over the last few weeks. A small Druze protest on the site was dispersed by police recently. Participants demanded that Israel cease treating Syrian rebels.
On Monday morning, a military ambulance carrying wounded Syrians was pelted with stones while leaving the Druze town of Hurfeish – a town that is relatively deep inside Israeli territory in the upper Galilee and whose residents, unlike those of Majdal Shams, serve in the IDF.
The incident led officials to decide that wounded Syrians won't be transported through Druze villages anymore.
But the decision was not implemented in time. The ambulance passing through Majdal Shams did so because the wounded had been rapidly evacuated from Mount Hermon and the only available road skirted the Druze town.
Around 150 Druze residents ambushed the ambulance, throwing stones as it attempted to escape – and eventually overtaking it and attacking its wounded passengers.
One question that remains unanswered is whether the crowds in Majdal Shams and Hurfeish had any advance knowledge about the ambulances' routes and the identities of the passengers. The incident in Hurfeish occurred around 4 AM.
A military source told Ynet that the soldiers who were under attack did not serve in combat roles and had no means for dispersing riots.
The IDF has denied claims that it assists Nusra Front. Senior IDF officials recently claimed that certain parties have been working to spread lies among the Druze in the north.
Pro-Assad TV channels in Syria reporteding on the Monday evening 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."