Four days after members of Israel’s Druze minority ambushed an Israeli ambulance and killed a wounded Syrian who was being transporting for medical treatment in the Golan Heights, a video of the deadly incident was leaked to the media.
The graphic footage, aired by Channel 2 Friday evening, shows several perpetrators repeatedly beating the two wounded Syrians with rocks and wooden boards, while spectators cheer and sing.
One man in particular, wearing jeans and no shirt, can be seen bringing down a wooden board over and over onto one of the Syrians on the ground.
On Thursday, police said they arrested three more suspects in connection with Monday’s deadly attack, which was the second outburst of violence that day by members of the Druze community angered by rumors that Israel was aiding jihadist rebels. Nine suspects had been arrested on Wednesday. In the earlier attack, another ambulance was blocked and stoned, but nobody was hurt.
The attacks came as Israeli Druze have voiced concern over the advance of jihadist rebels in southern Syria, including the massacre of 20 Druze villagers earlier this month.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the unprecedented outburst of violence a “lynching,” and vowed to to catch those who “took the law into their own hands.”
Two soldiers were also injured in the incident while trying to protect the wounded Syrians. Both soldiers were also members of the Druze community, according to Hebrew-language media reports.
The attackers in both of Monday’s incidents apparently believed the ambulances were carrying members of al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, though the IDF has insisted it does not offer medical treatment to Islamist rebels.
Israel routinely treats Syrians injured in the civil war: The Israel Defense Forces operates a field hospital along the border, and it transports more serious cases to hospitals elsewhere in the country.
Syria has said the two men in the ambulance were members of Al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front. Israel says they were civilians.
Israel does not rule out the possibility that some of those who have been given medical care are rebels, but denies that the military provides medical treatment to Syrian jihadi fighters from the Nusra Front.
However, the Assad regime, to which the Druze remain loyal, regularly accuses Israel of being in league with the jihadist rebels. An Assad mouthpiece on Tuesday praised the Druze rioters as “heroes” after the killing.
Israeli Druze have held several rallies over the past few weeks to pressure the government to intervene on behalf of the Druze community in Syria, which they fear is under an onslaught by jihadi rebels fighting the Assad regime.
The Druze are a secretive offshoot of Shiite Islam. Officials say there are 110,000 of them in northern Israel and another 20,000 on the Golan Heights. Israel’s Druze speak Hebrew and many serve in the IDF.
Since the massacre of Syrian Druze villagers earlier this month by Nusra Front fighters, their Israeli counterparts have become more forceful in pressuring Jerusalem to find a solution to their plight.
The Israeli government has been monitoring the situation and mulling a number of proposals to aid the embattled group, including the creation of a “safe zone” on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
Jonathan Beck and AFP contributed to this report.