Middle East Monitor / June 21, 2023
Hundreds of men from Druze opposing Golan wind farm scuffle with Israel police on the occupied Golan Heights protested on Wednesday against Israeli plans to set up a wind farm, some scuffling with riot police in an unusually violent confrontation that injured several people, Reuters reports.
Israel captured the Golan from Syria in a 1967 war and has generally placid relations with the strategic plateau’s Druze community, many of whose members profess loyalty to Damascus.
Some Druze have complained of bureaucratic neglect by Israel, whose proceeding with the erection of several wind turbines is viewed by the Golan villagers as an encroachment.
“The writing was on the wall,” Druze leader, Sheikh Mowafaq Tarif told Ynet News as protesters burned tyres on a road in Buqata village and, in a nearby orchard, threw rocks at police from behind makeshift shields.
Video distributed by police showed them firing tear gas and using a high-pressure water hose against the Druze protesters.
Israeli Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, said the government was moving ahead on a “major plan” to redress Druze complaints. But, he added in a statement, there was no justifying violence against a wind farm being lawfully built.
Medics said two people were evacuated for treatment in Tuesday’s incident. Police said several officers were injured.