Three protesters and three police officers suffered mild injuries from the clashes, which erupted in response to work that began Tuesday morning to build wind turbines near the Druze towns of Majdal Shams and Masadeh, on the Israel-Syria border

Adi Hashmonai. Jack Khoury. Jun 20, 2023

Clashes erupted in the Golan Heights on Tuesday between hundreds of Druze protesters and police officers because residents oppose the construction wind turbines in the area.

The protesters blocked agricultural roads and burned mattresses. Police used crowd-control equipment, including water cannons.

Three protesters suffered mild injuries from inhaling smoke or tear gas and were taken to a local clinic for treatment. Three police officers were injured in the clashes with protesters. Two were taken to Ziv Medical Center in Safed with mild injuries and the third was treated on the spot.

In response to the clashes, Druze from the Carmel and Galilee regions blocked Route 85 near the Rama Junction and Route 6 near the Elyakim Junction.

Druze from the northern Golan were protesting the work that began Tuesday morning to build turbines in orchards near their towns, including Majdal Shams and Masadeh. The police were there to guard the work, which is being carried out by the Energix company.

Energix plans to build 23 wind turbines in the area at an estimated cost of 700 million shekels ($190 million). But residents of the nearby towns oppose this, even though some of the landowners originally signed contracts allowing the turbines to be built on their lands. After the contracts were signed, the owners came under pressure from other residents, and most sought to retract their consent.

Al-Marsad – the Arab Human Rights Center in the Golan Heights and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel both criticized the police’s conduct in a joint statement. 

“Building turbines isn’t a secret, surprise operation,” they said, adding that “nevertheless, police acted as if it were a military operation.”

They went on to demand that the police “refrain from blocking residents’ access to their agricultural plantings, allow them to exercise their right to protest and inform them about the work in advance.”

Druze living in the area began protesting the project in late 2020, when it was first approved. At that time, too, there were clashes in which 20 protesters and four policemen were injured, all mildly.