Israel arrested nine Arab Druze suspects on Thursday in connection with attacks last month on ambulances of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) bringing Syrian rebel casualties in the Golan Heights to Israeli hospitals, security sources said on Wednesday.
Druze attacked two Israeli army ambulances they suspected of admitting Syrian rebels into Israel for medical care.
One ambulance managed to escape with its crew and patients without harm. However, one Syrian man was killed in the attack on the other ambulance and another Syrian and two Israeli soldiers were seriously injured.
הדרוזים ביצעו לינץ בפצועים הסורים. התמונות קשות. מצבם קשה. pic.twitter.com/98qIcDzYs4
— Guy Varon (@guyvaron) June 22, 2015
Many members of the Druze ethno-religious minority in Syria and the Israeli occupied Golan Heights, which Israel annexed from Syria in 1967, have long been loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
On Tuesday, the Syrian state news agency SANA described the Druze men behind the ambulance attack as "heroic Syrian young men" and claimed they had been targeting wounded insurgents from the Al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front.
The arrests took place within the Druze communities in Israel and the Golan, according to a statement by an Israeli police spokeswoman reported by Reuters.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, will meet with Druze leaders on Wednesday and urge them "to tell every Druze citizen of Israel to respect soldiers" and not commit unlawful acts, his office said.
“Later, officials involved in the case revealed that an IDF soldier may have passed information on to Druze villagers regarding the ambulance's occupants and route and thereby set off the attack,” the Israel National News website reported.
Druze are a religious minority mostly living in Syria, Israel and Lebanon. They are concentrated in the south of Syria in particular, though there are some Druze villages spread around the rest of the country.