The scene of the Druze mob attack

Investigation finds IDF troops tried to protect Syrian wounded from lynch

Army investigators looking into the possibility a soldier may have provided angry mob with information on route of military ambulance transporting wounded Syrians.

An initial IDF investigation into a brutal mob attack on a military ambulance transporting wounded Syrian rebels found that the ambulance was blocked by rocks on the road, and that it was attacked by Druze rioters on ATVs.



Overnight Tuesday, the IDF arrested ten Druze suspected of being involved in the Monday night incident and in a similar incident in the early hours of Monday in Hurfeish.


The initial investigation into the second incident, in which one of the wounded rebels was killed, found that the soldiers in the ambulance, an army doctor and a Druze NCO, defended the wounded Syrians with their bodies, and seemed to have "prevented a massacre."


The ambulance that came under attack (Photo: Avihu Shapira)
The ambulance that came under attack (Photo: Avihu Shapira)


When faced with the Druze mob hurling stones and the rocks blocking the road, the soldiers in the ambulance decided to drive to the nearby moshav Neve Ativ, fearing more Druze rioters were waiting for them near the Druze village of Ein Qiniyye.


Both the medical team and the military police accompanying the ambulance reported the incident to the head of the division.


When the ambulance arrived in Neve Ativ, it was joined by at least ten IDF officers and fighters, among them the division's head of operations with his team, the division's chief medical officer and a Golani patrol force that was nearby.


For a reason that remains unclear, the Neve Ativ entry gate was not closed behind the ambulance, allowing some 100 rioters to enter the moshav.


The mob demanded the two Syrian wounded to be given to them, while the IDF troops protected them. The troops fired into the air, but decided not to fire at protesters or at main instigators.



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Investigators are also examining the possibility a soldier might have leaked to the Druze rioters the ambulance's planned route.


Meanwhile, the two soldiers who were wounded in the attack was released from the hospital on Tuesday. The second wounded Syrian, who suffered gunshot wounds to his lower body in fighting in Syria, and beaten in his upper body and head by the mob, is in serious but stable condition.


The Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, where he is hospitalized under increased security, said he suffered only light injuries in the mob attack.


The hospital said Syrian wounded hospitalized in Israel have always been under security, but so far the security guards' job was to ensure the wounded did not try to leave the hospital, rather than protect them from outside threats.


The scene of the Druze mob attack
The scene of the Druze mob attack


In response to the incident, the IDF said it would not stop treating wounded Syrians, and plans to increase the security around the ambulance transports. A decision was made Tuesday to have a military police car escort every ambulance trip. The police, meanwhile, said they were in full contact and cooperation with the IDF and would provide any help needed to secure the evacuations.


An IDF spokesman went on to clarify that the wounded Syrians that were being treated in Israel do not belong Jabhat al-Nusra, an Islamist organization fighting against the regime of President Bashar Assad.


IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot held a meeting with the head of the Northern Command, Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, condemning the attack on the soldiers and wounded Syrians; "It is unacceptable that IDF soldiers and the wounded would be attacked by Israeli citizens."


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also commented on the serious incident, and promised that "We will not allow anyone to take the law into their hands. We will not allow anyone to interfere with IDF soldiers and their duties. We will find those responsible and bring them to justice."


Tuesday saw Druze leaders from all over the country hold an emergency session, which led to a unanimous condemnation of the attack.


The spiritual leader of the community, Sheikh Moafaq Tarif said: "This is a serious act conducted by a few individuals, who do not represent the community, and we will not accept these acts."


During the meeting it was decided to socially boycott anyone who takes part in such acts, and it seems like the decision has already yielded results: A protest which was meant to take place outside a hospital treating wounded Syrians was cancelled due to fear of social boycotts on the participants.   


With that said, there are still many Druze in the Golan who represent a more divided viewpoint. Patan Afif, a resident of Majdal Shams – from which the mob came - condemned the attack, but clarified that "What is happening should not be happening, but this is what the state cooked up. Why are they treating Jabhat al-Nusra, who kill our relatives?"


She went on to say that while visiting a hospital she met a wounded Syrian who was being treated in Israel, who told her that he was fighting to "kill all the Christians and then all the Druze."


Goel Beno contributed to this report.


פרסום ראשון: 06.24.15, 10:46
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