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Seek to Calm Druze Fears

The government is trying to allay the concerns of Israel’s loyal Druze community over the plight of their Druze brethren in Lebanon who have been in almost constant warfare with Lebanese Christian Phalangists in the Shouf mountains in recent months.

Sheikh Amin Tarif, spiritual leader of the Druze in Israel, headed a delegation of local Druze who met with Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir today to express their anxiety. Tarif assured Shamir that the cooperation of the Druze in Lebanon with the Syrians was limited and demanded that Israel protect the Lebanese Druze from attacks by Christian militias. He warned that if the situation continues, it would be “hard to restrain” Israeli Druze.

Shamir reportedly assured the delegation that Israel would render the Lebanese Druze whatever assistance it could. But he contended that the Druze in Lebanon are exploiting the favorable relationship Israeli Druze enjoy with the Israel government, implying that the former were trying to play both sides.

Meanwhile, Matityahu Shmuelevitz, Director General of the Prime Ministers Office met with the Druze Zionist circle in Daliat Al Carmel village today. He charged that Druze in Lebanon were involved in attacks on Israeli soldiers. However, Shmuelevitz noted that they represented only a minority of the Druze community in Lebanon. He said Israel was doing everything it could to improve relations between the Druze and Christians in the Shouf mountains.

Sheikh Tarif has suggested that he go to Lebanon personally, escorted by high Israeli officials, to “settle affairs.” So far he’s gotten no response from Israeli authorities.

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