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Thousands of Druze riot against Golan Heights wind farm

Druze protest the construction of a new wind farm near the Druze village of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights, June 21, 2023. (Photo: Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

Thousands of Druze citizens in northern Israel have been violently protesting for two consecutive days against the scheduled building of a large wind farm adjacent to the northern Druze village of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights.

The rioters are using fireworks, rocks, Molotov cocktails and burning tires in their aggression toward Israeli police.

At least four Druze residents were seriously injured and 12 Israel Police officers have been wounded during the violent clashes.

The local Druze population reportedly views the wind farm energy project as a threat to their traditional agrarian way of life. In addition, most Druze residents in the Golan are not Israeli citizens.

Many oppose the Israeli presence near the nation’s northern border with Syria, referring to Israel’s “occupation” of the land and continuing to identify with their Syrian neighbor.

Israel won the strategically important Golan Heights during the Six-Day War in 1967 following years of repeated Syrian attacks on Israeli civilian border communities.

The Israel Police explained that despite forces employing riot-control methods, one officer “was forced to fire gunshots after he felt an immediate danger to his life when a group of masked people approached holding rocks.”

There are ongoing concerns that the Druze riots in the Golan Heights could potentially spread to the Druze community in the Galilee, which until now has been a notably loyal and well-integrated minority within the Israeli sector.

Many Israeli Druze citizens serve in the nation's military and intelligence units.

Rafik Halabi, mayor of the Druze town Daliyat al-Karmel in northern Israel, warned several local media outlets that the Golan riots could explode into an “intifada,” the Arabic word for a violent uprising.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the spiritual leader of the Israeli Druze community Sheikh Mowafak Tarif in an effort to calm tensions.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Druze spiritual leader Shaykh Mowafaq Tarif, June 21, 2023 (Photo: Haim Zach/GPO)

"I view with severity and concern what is currently happening in the Golan Heights," said Netanyahu while urging citizens to obey the nation’s laws. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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