Ambulance attacks prompt Israeli arrests of Druze | News | DW | 24.06.2015
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Ambulance attacks prompt Israeli arrests of Druze

Israeli media say at least nine members of Israel's Druze community have been arrested following Monday's mob attacks on ambulances. They were transporting wounded from Syria via the Golan Heights.

Israeli police said on Wednesday that they had carried out a "wave of arrests" of Druze suspects in the wake of Monday's two incidents. Israel's military said "humanitarian" medical care of wounded from Syria would continue.

On Monday, crowds of Druze, who form a significant minority in Israel and typically align themselves with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, blocked two army ambulances arriving from Syria.

This followed media reports that wounded from Syria taken in for treatment by Israel belonged to jihadi rebel groups fighting Druze in Syria. The Druze belong to an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

One ambulance escaped. In the other, a Syrian casualty was killed and another occupant seriously hurt in what Israeli officials described as a "lynching."

Israeli media reported on Wednesday that nine or 10 Druze suspects had been arrested. Security forces were probing whether army sources had leaked details about the medical transports to Druze protestors.

Israeli police said publication of further details was prohibited and spoke only of a "wave of arrests."

Israel Norbert Lammert Knesset Jerusalem

Golan's Druze follow events in Syria closely

Netanyahu to meet Druze leaders

The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would convene a meeting with Israeli Druze leaders on Wednesday "to calm tensions."

Druze serve in Israel's army and have influence in its government. It is estimated that 110,00 of them live in northern Israel and another 20,000 in the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in 1967.

Lammert addresses Knesset

In Jerusalem, German Bundestag president Norbert Lammert addressed the Knesset on Wednesday to mark 50 years of Israeli-German diplomatic ties.

He told Israel's parliament that the Holocaust perpetrated on Europe's Jewish communities by Germany under Hitler meant that Israeli-German ties would remain "intensive" but never normal.

Israel Golanhöhen Drusen Männer

Ties friendly and intensive, not normal, says Lammert

Describing his first visit to Israel as a young parliamentarian in 1981, Lammert said Israeli reticence was understandable, given the trauma suffered by Jews.

"I understood that relations could never be normal. They couldn't be normal," Lammert said.

It was a "miracle of history" that friendly relations were initiated by Israel's founder David Ben Gurion and the late West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer from the 1950s, Lammert said.

Conference planned in Berlin

To counter what he termed "shameful" acts of anti-Semitism across present-day Europe, Lammert said Germany was planning a special inter-parliamentary conference in Berlin next year on the issue.

"Anti-Semitism, wherever it occurs, is not acceptable; in Germany it is unbearable," Lammert said.

Positive signs, Lammert said, were some 100 twin-city partnerships between Israel and Germany and the "magical" interest shown by their youth in making reciprocal visits to both nations.

He described Israel as the "only functioning democracy" in the Middle East.

Gazan entry permits revoked

Israel's military, meanwhile, said on Wednesday it was revoking entry permits for 500 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, barring their attendance at Friday prayers in Jerusalem, because of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip that hit southern Israel on Tuesday night.

Early on Wednesday, Israel staged an air strike on an open area in northern Gaza, apparently without causing casualties. Tuesday's rocket fire from Gaza also appeared to have been casualty-free.

The Associated Press said responsibility was claimed by a salafist group in Gaza which poses a new challenge for Hamas, the Islamist group that has governed the coastal enclave in recent years.

ipj/msh (AFP, dpa, Reuters, KNA, Phoenix)

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