In a second attack on Monday June 22, a Druze mob from the Golan village of Majdal Shams ambushed another Israeli ambulance carrying injured Syrians to hospital. They heaped stones in its path, seized the vehicle and manhandled the Syrian men. One of the men died after reaching Sieff hospital in Safed and the other is in critical condition. A large IDF and Border Police Force came under a hail of rocks when they tried to intervene. Two were injured.
Earlier Monday, another IDF ambulance carrying injured Syrian rebel fighters from the Golan border was pelted with stones by dozens of Druze from the Galilee village of Hurfeish, who claimed the wounded men were jihadis and were killing their people in Syria. One of the Druze assailants was injured when he tried to block the ambulance’s path. The driver was able to reach the nearest police station at Ma’a lot and obtain a police escort for the rest of the trip to the Galilee Medical Center in Naharya.
The second pick-up of injured Syrian fighters took place Monday evening despite the earlier attack, although there was a proposal to move them by helicopter.
Syrian government media responded to the Majdel Shams attack by hailing the assailants for their “heroic operation.”
The identities and political affiliations of the injured patients are not disclosed, after they are collected from the Golan border with Syria. But most are young men whom the Druze claim belong to groups like the Nusra Front which is hostile to their community in Syria and with which they accuse Israel of collaborating.
The Druze community has been pressing hard for Israel to intervene in the Syrian conflict on behalf of their Syrian brethren. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon took charge of the Druze crisis last week in an effort to avert a bloody clash between rebel groups operating in South Syria and the inhabitants of Jabal Druze and outlying villages. They turned to US and Jordanian officers running Syrian rebel forces for help and they were able over the weekend to negotiate a mutual non-belligerency commitment between the two parties.
The ambulance incidents Monday showed that this deal was not working – mainly because hostile elements are stirring up the Druze communities on both sides of the border to make trouble. Among them are agents serving the Assad regime and Hizballah.
The situation deteriorated further Monday night, when the mixed rebel groups fighting in South Syria as a coalition fell out and started fighting each other. In the most serious instance, the commander of the Ahrar al Sham, one of the most radical jihadist groups fighting Assad, was assassinated. In this highly heated atmosphere, the Druze issue looks like being pulled into the roiling heart of the broader Syrian conflict. The fallout has begun to slip over into Israel.