Members of the Druse community watch the fighting in the Druse village of Khadr in Syria as they stand on the Israeli side of the border fence between Syria and the Golan Heights.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli Druse are spreading various reports and conspiracy theories regarding the attacks on IDF ambulances carrying wounded from Syria.
In conversations with The Jerusalem Post, not only Druse leaders but also ordinary residents expressed belief in these rumors or at least some aspects of them.
Some say Israel is purposefully aiding the jihadists, while others say they are taking advantage of Israel’s generous humanitarian policy. However, the IDF is adamant that these rumors are false.
“The IDF has not aided the organization Jabhat al-Nusra since the fighting began in Syria four years ago,” said Spokesman Brig.–Gen. Moti Almoz, Channel 2 reported.
Speaking on Army Radio, Almoz said the men in the ambulance that was attacked Monday night were Syrian citizens injured in their country’s civil war.
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In conversations with Druse from the Golan Heights and Galilee this past week, Israel was repeatedly accused of either directly supporting the Nusra Front or helping them indirectly by treating their fighters and returning them to battle.
Israel was painted as playing a direct role in the crisis facing the Syrian Druse, and of being culpable and the only party that could stop a catastrophe, either by direct military action such as air strikes on jihadis, or by opening the border and allowing in droves of Syrian Druse refugees.
Several Druse called on Israel to stop treating all Syrians who arrive at the border seeking treatment – except for Druse – and said they expect people to take the law into their own hands and stop and search IDF ambulances, such as happened this week.
Mendi Safadi – an Israeli Druse who has served as Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara’s chief of staff, and who has traveled in the region and met with Syrian opposition activists – told the Post this week that “Israel knows what it is doing. People coming to Israel are not jihadists.”
Asked about the rumors, Safadi responded that many Druse listen to Syrian regime media and follow related Facebook pages of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.
These sources push the narrative that Israel is aiding Nusra, and numerous Druse believe this. The Druse are following the media in order to follow what is going on with their families in Syria, he added.
The main claim by Druse leaders is that since Israel’s humanitarian aid policy is generous and does not discriminate based on political views, it is giving medical treatment to Nusra Front fighters, though perhaps not purposefully.
Dolan Abu Saleh, the mayor of Majdal Shams, when asked about the rumors and conspiracy theory spread by some Druse, which led to the attacks, responded that Israel has a policy to give humanitarian aid to all who are wounded, no matter their political position.
“Israel sometimes gives medical treatment to Hamas terrorists,” he said, noting that the daughter of senior leader Ismail Haniyeh received medical treatment in Israel.
Saleh said Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese Druse terrorist who as a member of the Palestine Liberation Front took part in murdering Israelis in a 1979 beach raid on Nahariya, was in the Syrian Druse border town of Hader seeking to stir up anti-Israel activity.
Druse and Circassian Local Councils Forum head Jaber Hamoud said Kuntar, who was released in a prisoner exchange with Hezbollah, is not considered Druse anymore. He added that Kuntar and others associated with Hezbollah are trying to create chaos inside Israel.
Whether the rumor is that Israel is purposefully aiding jihadists, or whether a Hezbollah- affiliated terrorist is behind the violence, Israeli Druse are on edge and disturbed by what they see as Israel’s hands-off policy and perceived indifference to their brethren in Syria.
Reuters contributed to this report.