Deterioration in Muslim-Druze relations after Temple Mount attack

Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan speaks at the funeral of Israeli Druze police officer Kamil Shnaan in the northern village of Hurfeish, July 14, 2017. (Photo: Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Since the fateful attack on the Temple Mount in which two Druze-Israeli police officers were slain by Muslim terrorists, there has been a surge in tensions between Muslim and Druze citizens within their communities in Israel.

The two young men from the Druze community were posthumously promoted to the rank of master sergeant. A majority of Israelis — Jews, Christians and Druze alike — have joined in mourning their loss.

Following the burials of the two young men in their respective Galilean Druze towns, what appeared to be revenge attacks have caused deep concern over the delicate coexistence between the Israeli Druze, who pledge loyalty to the State of Israel, and some Israeli Muslims who don’t. Both have full Israeli citizenship, but their allegiances are diametrically opposed.

In Maghar, the town where Staff Sgt. Maj. Ha’il Satawi lived and was buried, a suspect threw a stun grenade and shot live rounds into the air at a mosque in the Muslim neighborhood of the city. A few days prior, stun grenades were thrown at two other mosques. Despite negligible damage to the property and no injuries, security forces were deployed to these areas and police have prioritized maintaining calm at all costs.

A resident of Issifiya, a Druze village near Haifa, told KNI that the community was taking the loss hard even though the two officers were from different villages.

“There was drama here over the weekend as the big supermarket Kingstore is owned by a Muslim from Um El Fahm and he actually went to offer his condolences to the terrorists’ families,” the resident said. “There has been lots of talk about revenge, but so far nothing has happened other than no one goes to that store anymore.”

Sheikh Mowafaq Tarif, the spiritual leader of the Druze community in Israel, condemned the attack on the mosque and insisted that good relations between Druze and Muslims be preserved. Even though a representative of the Muslim community is yet to condemn the murder of the Druze soldiers on the Temple Mount, Tarif asserted that the attack against the Druze policemen was not representative of Arab society.

An Islamic Movement member and Maghar resident, Dr. Mansour Abbas condemned the attack on his city’s mosque. He said that anyone who harms places of worship is irresponsible and can sabotage relationships between the various people groups in the community.

Maghar is an Israeli Arab town with a population of just under 25,000 comprised of 57 percent Druze residents, 23 percent Arab Christians and 20 percent Muslims. Some Muslim residents have said they scared to leave their homes, but they want to remain in good standing with their fellow Arabic-speaking neighbors and don’t want to get caught up in incitement.

Even though the Druze religion is derived from Islam, the Druze show loyalty to the State of Israel which puts them at odds with Muslims who are against Israel. The Israeli Druze community have condemned the Temple Mount attackers and their backgrounds in no uncertain terms. At the same time, they have spoken out against the Maghar attacks too. Many in the Israeli Arab community align themselves with the terrorists from the Temple Mount attack and others who feel justified in killing any Israeli, especially if they are seen to be supporting what they call “the occupation of Palestinian land” thus condemning the Druze who support Israel.