Israeli police arrest several Druze after lynching of Syrian

AFP , Wednesday 24 Jun 2015

Israeli police said Wednesday they had carried out a "wave of arrests" of suspects involved in two attacks by Druze on military vehicles transporting wounded Syrians to hospital.

Israeli media said nine Druze were arrested over the attacks on Monday, when a mob killed a Syrian and wounded another in the Golan Heights and an ambulance was stoned in the Galilee town of Hurfesh.

"An extensive wave of arrests was conducted overnight of suspects involved in two incidents of attacking military ambulances near Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights and near Hurfesh," a police statement said.

Further details of the investigations into both incidents remained under a gag order.

Syria's Druze minority are traditional allies of President Bashar al-Assad, and the rioters on Monday probably believed the men in the ambulance were rebels fighting to unseat him.

Army spokesman Major Arye Shalicar told AFP there was "no change" in the Israeli policy of providing "humanitarian" medical care to wounded Syrians who approach the ceasefire line on the Golan Heights.

Israel says it is not involved in the internal Syrian fighting, but does not rule out the possibility that some of those given medical care are rebels.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described the Golan Heights killing as a "lynching" and was set to meet Wednesday with local Druze leaders, who roundly condemned the attack.

The Druze are a secretive offshoot of Shia Islam. Officials say there are 110,000 of them in northern Israel and another 20,000 in the Israeli-occupied Golan.

Israel seized 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War.

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