Israel's Druze warn of intifada

Sunday, June 21, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

Hundreds of Israeli Druze rioted outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on Sunday as the cabinet was meeting, demanding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stop what they called the government's discrimination against them.

The demands of the Druze were threefold: cancel all debts against the Druze community, reinstate broad local authority funds that the government previously determined were being misused, and create new income sources for their towns and villages.

The demonstrators tried to disrupt the cabinet meeting by blowing air horns. When that was deemed ineffective, dozens of the Druze tried to rush the government building, and had to be forcibly stopped by police officers. Seven police officers were lightly wounded in the clash.

Hamud Jabar, the head of a Druze regional council in northern israel, warned in remarks to Ynet that if the demands presented on Sunday are not met, the Druze may launch and intifada of their own similar to the Palestinian terrorist campaigns against Israel.

The Druze community in Israel has long been loyal to the state, and its male members all join the Israeli army. But several isolated clashes between Jews and Druze have occurred over the past few years, and leading voices in the Druze community have amplified their complaints of discrimination.

Some attribute the growing tensions to the radicalization of Druze and Bedouin Arab youth in Israel by Islamic and other anti-Israel voices.

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