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IDF checks if soldier tipped off Druze ahead of lynching

Investigators suspicious of how Golan residents knew to ambush ambulance carrying wounded Syrians Monday night

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)

The IDF on Tuesday began investigating the possibility that an IDF soldier leaked information that Syrian wounded were being transported through the Druze town of Majdal Shams Monday night, enabling local residents to ambush the vehicle and attack the patients inside, killing one of them.

According to a Channel 2 report, the mob was lying in wait for the IDF ambulance on Monday evening and intended to block the road with ATVs.

Members of the community apparently believed the ambulance was carrying members of the al-Nusra front jihadi rebel group, which has advanced on Druze areas of Syria, raising fears of a massacre.

The ambulance crew spotted the attackers — who began pelting the vehicle with rocks — took evasive action, and headed instead to the nearby Jewish community of Neve Ativ.

However, the crew stopped the ambulance at the side of the road to request assistance because the windshield of the vehicle was shattered.

Before long the Druze crowd caught up with them and renewed the assault, demanding to know the identities of the men inside and eventually pulling them from the vehicle and beating them, killing one and critically injuring the other, who was already serious wounded before the attack.

According to Channel 2, two soldiers who were accompanying the wounded men tried to protect the Syrians and were lightly injured by the crowd.

The army fears the mob may have been clued in to the transport ahead of time, allowing them to carry out the attack, according to reports by Channel 2 and Channel 10.

It wasn’t clear who perpetrated the ambush, or whether they were citizens of the State of Israel. The vast majority of Syrian Druze living in the Golan Heights do not have Israeli citizenship.

The attack was the second assault on an ambulance carrying wounded Syrians in a day, following a similar attack in the town of Hurfeish that ended with only light damage and no injures hours earlier.

The incidents drew condemnation from some and a promise from the Israeli army that it does not transport wounded jihadists for treatment. The army has said the two injured men were civilians and not combatants.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for calm Tuesday, vowed to see those responsible apprehended, and invited Druze leaders for a meeting at his office in Jerusalem the next day.

“I view this with utmost gravity,” Netanyahu said earlier in the day. “We won’t allow anyone to take the law into their own hands. We will not allow anyone to hinder IDF soldiers in their mission. We will locate those who perpetrated this lynching and we will deal with them to the fullest extent of the law.”

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