While the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, at least 500 Israelis, mostly from Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, arrived in Haifa Saturday night to join a rally in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Balad MK Said Nafa, former Knesset member Issam Mahoul and the head of the Orthodox Church Archbishop Atallah Hanna all participated in the rally, which was the largest in Israel since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict in March of last year, according to Channel 2 news. The three leaders of the Arab Israeli community expressed their support for Assad, saying that violent situation reported in Syria is part of a greater conspiracy by Arab and Western regimes to strip Assad of his power.
A number of activists against the regime in Damascus also arrived at the protest, chanting slogans against the Syrian president and provoking a small skirmish between some of the activists in Haifa to show their support of the Syrian government.
While the rally may have been the largest in Israel yet, similar rallies in support of the Syrian president have taken place in the Golan Heights, attracting far fewer crowds of mostly Druse Israelis.