Photo Credit: Andrew McIntire / TPS
Israeli tank on the Syrian-Israeli border, August 8 2016

Police said Tuesday that seven residents of Majdal Shams and Ein Kiniya, including two minors, have been arrested for allegedly participating in rioting last Friday, and on suspicion they caused damage to the fence on the Israel-Syria border.

Riots broke out following a terror attack by Syrian rebels in Hader, a Druze village on the Syrian side of the border just several kilometers from Majdal Shams. Several residents of the Israeli town said they had lost family members in the bombing and clashed with police and security forces when they tried to cross the border into Syria.

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In contrast to residents of Druze towns in the Galilee, who are Israeli citizens and nearly all of whom complete military service, Druze residents in the Golan Heights maintain a complicated relationship with Israel.

Many residents of Majdal Shams reject Israel’s annexation of the region in 1981 and openly support the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus and say they consider themselves Syrian, not Israeli.

Many residents believe that Israel has supported the Al-Nusra Front, one of the key rebel groups that has fought to dislodge the Assad regime since 2011 and said they held Israel responsible for last week’s attack in Hader.

As noted above, however, many residents of Majdal Shams have family members in Syria, meaning that expressions of support for Assad could be tinged with concern for the fate of loved ones should Israeli Druze express support for Israel.

Some have also told this reporter in recent years that an ongoing debate in Israel over the future of Israel’s control of the Heights has left question marks for local residents. They say the possibility that Israel could one day pull out of the region has forced them to take care not to antagonize the regime in Damascus in order to minimize the possibility of retaliation in the event that Israel eventually withdraws from the region.

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