‘Druze uprising could turn into an intifada,’ local council head warns • Netanyahu, Shin Bet chief meet with Druze community leader amid violence


Published: JUNE 21, 2023 

Thousands of Druze Israelis in the Golan Heights clashed with Israel Police on Wednesday as they protested against the construction of wind turbines in the area, according to the Israel Police Spokesperson’s Unit.

The protestors attempted to take over a police station, throwing Molotov cocktails and stones at the police officers who responded by opening fire. The police said that some protestors shot at them, injuring several officers.

Two protestors, 22 and 45 years old, were moderately injured by police fire. They were taken to a nearby hospital.

The police officer who shot one of the injured Druze protesters was quoted by Walla as saying that he “felt his life was in real danger.” The protestors reportedly ran at the officer while throwing stones and holding something sharp, as per the report.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Sheikh Mowafaq Tarif, the leader of the Druze community in Israel, that he is “concerned” over the “serious” events transpiring in the Golan Heights, in a meeting also attended by Shin Bet director Ronen Bar. In a video statement released following the meeting, the prime minister stressed that Israel is a state where the rule of law reigns supreme, noting that he will “not accepts riot, not in the Golan Heights and not in Judea and Samaria.” Netanyahu fully backed officers in their attempts to control the riots.

Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai reassured that Israel Police and Border Police officers spread across the Golan Heights have his “full support,” further condemning any attack on officers by Druze protestors. Shabtai further ordered to continue dialogue with Druze community leaders as a means to calm the protest.

‘Druze uprising could turn into an intifada,’ local council head warns

Israel Police calls on the sector leaders to accept the legal procedure done in the turbines project and to help settle the situation,” the Israel Police said in a statement.

“The Druze people serve in key roles at the heart of Israeli society and have for years served as a prime example of democracy and lawfulness. The violent behavior and bullying, which includes blocking roads, setting tires on fire, and damaging traffic lights, could lead to people getting hurt and strain ties.”

Police set up blockades across entrances and exits to the Golan Heights in response to the protests, with Highway 6 blocked in the North across several sections. In addition, Roads 70, 85, 89 and 854 were also partially blocked on Wednesday afternoon. All blockades have since been removed, police said.

Dalit al-Carmel Council head Rafik Halbi warned that the situation could get worse if not handled properly and turn into an intifada.

“A sort of intifada is about to develop among the Druze people in Israel because of planning laws, fines, and destruction orders,” he said. “Rage is building up, and a difficult transition is on its way. The country just disparages us.”