Stop wind turbine farm or face more violent rioting, Druze leaders warn Netanyahu

After nearly a full day of chaotic protests and rioting, Netanyahu agreed to temporarily freeze the construction.

By World Israel News Staff

Senior leaders from Israel’s Druze community sent an open letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, warning him that if work on a controversial wind turbine farm in the Golan Heights isn’t stopped, they will be unable to control rioting and violent resistance from members of the sector.

“The heads of the community consider it appropriate to order an immediate freeze on the work and the withdrawal of the police forces from the area where the construction is being carried out until after the end of the Druze community’s Eid Al-Adha holiday,” they wrote.

“We expect that the Israeli government will respond positively to this request and allow the community members to celebrate the holiday period in peace and tranquility.”

Sheikh Muafek Tarif, the highest religious authority for Druze in Israel, added in a media statement that “the continuation of the existing situation will lead to severe consequences that no one has control over.”

He added that “we do not want violence or confrontations… we demanded to freeze the works in the Golan Heights and enter into dialogue immediately.”

On Wednesday, thousands of Druze blocked major highways and intersections throughout northern Israel, in protest of the construction. Traffic came to a standstill for hours, with some motorists reporting that they had been stuck on the road for up to six hours.

The demonstrations eventually turned violent, with police and protesters repeatedly engaging in physical clashes. At least four Druze men were seriously hurt, with one of them being shot by a police officer and airlifted to Rambam Hospital in Haifa for emergency treatment.

Security forces said that 12 police officers were injured.

After nearly a full day of chaotic protests and rioting, Netanyahu agreed to temporarily freeze the construction.

Several years ago, an Israeli energy company won a tender to construct a massive wind turbine farm in the Golan Heights, which would stretch over hundreds of acres of land and feature windmills that are 220 meters (720 feet) tall, permanently altering the landscape of the area.

Environmental protection groups and residents of the Golan Heights are vehemently opposed to the plan, arguing that it will endanger local migrating birds and negatively impact quality of life for those in the region.

The amount of green energy potentially generated by the project is negligible. Watchdog groups and the company behind the project have estimated that it could provide, at maximum, 0.5 percent of the electricity needed by the Jewish state.

Construction on the turbine farm was originally slated to begin in 2020, but the project has been repeatedly delayed due to intense public backlash.