2 Golan Druze indicted for lynching wounded Syrians
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2 Golan Druze indicted for lynching wounded Syrians

Mother-of-four and man accused of killing one Syrian civil war casualty and gravely injuring another en route to the hospital

An IDF ambulance that was attacked by Druze Israeli residents in the Golan Heights as it ferried Syrian war casualties into Israel for medical treatment, June 22, 2015. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)
An IDF ambulance that was attacked by Druze Israeli residents in the Golan Heights as it ferried Syrian war casualties into Israel for medical treatment, June 22, 2015. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Two residents of a Druze village in the Golan Heights were indicted Monday for their alleged role in the June killing and wounding of casualties from the Syrian civil war who were being transported by ambulance to an Israeli hospital for treatment.

Bashira Mahmoud, a 48-year-old mother of four, and Amer Abu Salah, 21, both of Majdal Shams, were brought before a judge at the Nazareth District Court and accused of killing Munzir Halil and exacerbating the wounds of another man, in an incident that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu termed a “lynching” at the time.

The duo’s remand was extended pending their trial.

The June 22 incident saw a mob attack an ambulance carrying Halil and another Syrian man, Alah Shaban, who were being evacuated from a border crossing with Syria to an Israeli hospital. Both were suffering from minor gunshot wounds to their legs.

The mob, apparently believing Syrian jihadists were on board, blocked the ambulance’s path. The convoy, which included an IDF jeep, initially managed to escape to the nearby Jewish village of Neve Ativ, but dozens of armed Druze followed and overtook it.

After taking control of the ambulance, the mob dragged both of the injured through a broken window in the vehicle’s rear and onto the road.

According to the indictment, Salah repeatedly beat Halil on his upper body with a wooden plank as he lay defenseless on the ground. He then took a stone and smashed it into Halil’s hip.

At that point, Mahmoud allegedly hammered a rock into Halil’s head, fracturing his skull and causing his death. Shaban was gravely wounded in the incident.

A female IDF paramedic who tried to treat the two at the scene was obstructed from doing so. Ultimately, a group of soldiers arrived and extracted the two Syrians, who were both in serious condition. Halil was pronounced dead on the way to hospital. Two soldiers were also lightly injured in the incident.

Salah allegedly confessed to his role in the killing after viewing video footage of the incident. Mahmoud’s lawyer, Muhammad Milham, however, asserted that his client was innocent.

Police said the investigation was ongoing and that they intended to file charges against additional suspects.

The incident, and a similar attack two days earlier that ended with no injuries, garnered widespread condemnation across Israel. The spiritual leader of the Druze in Israel, Sheikh Mofaq Tarif, condemned the attack, but claimed that passions were stirred after Druze residents got whiff of a report that Israel may be inadvertently treating members of jihadist groups fighting in the Syrian civil war.

Following the incident, Israel revised its policy of medical aid to wounded Syrians to ensure it does not treat fighters from al-Qaeda affiliate the Nusra Front, which has been battling Syrian President Bashar Assad along with the pro-Assad Syrian Druze community.

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