Skip to main content

Why are Golan Heights Druze protesting Israel's wind turbines project?

The state-backed project has ignited strong objections by the Druze in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, who fear for their health and for their rural way of life.
A woman holds up a sign as other protesters wave Syrian national flags and red banners during a demonstration by Druze residents of the village of Majdal Shams in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights against Israeli construction of wind turbines in the territory, Jan. 24, 2020.

Frustration levels of the Druze ethnoreligious group in the Golan Heights increased this week over a project for installing dozens of wind turbines on their land, perceived by the community as yet another afront by the Israeli authorities. The community — many of its members are Syrian citizens — feels that the project threatens their rural way of life, their heritage and their health.

Thousands of Druze demonstrated on Tuesday and Wednesday against the state-backed project by renewable energy company Energix to construct a wind turbine field in the north of the Golan Heights for renewable energy production. Violent clashes erupted between the protesters and the police; demonstrators threw stones and Molotov cocktails at security forces, and burned tires. Twenty-seven people, including 17 police officers, were injured during Wednesday’s clashes, and six demonstrators were detained. The community has said they will continue to protest if the project isn’t suspended, according to Ynet.

Old and new grievances resurging

According to data published by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, some 150,000 Druze live in Israel, 125,000 of whom hold Israeli citizenship. Many of the Israeli Druze men serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The roughly 25,000 Druze who reside on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights refuse to take Israeli nationality and still hold Syrian citizenship. 

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.