Israel Would Create DMZ for Syrian Refugees

YERUSHALAYIM
View of bombing between Syrian forces from the Israeli side of the border in the Golan Heights on Tuesday. (Basal Awidat/Flash90)
View of bombing between Syrian forces from the Israeli side of the border in the Golan Heights on Tuesday. (Basal Awidat/Flash90)
IDF forces blocked the area near the Israeli-Syrian border in the Golan Heights for several hours on Tuesday. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)
IDF forces blocked the area near the Israeli-Syrian border in the Golan Heights for several hours on Tuesday. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)
IDF artillery on the Golan Heights. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)
IDF artillery on the Golan Heights. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Israel stands ready to intervene in Syria on a humanitarian basis, by creating a demilitarized zone on the Syrian side to provide safe haven for refugees fleeing the civil war, The Times of Israel reported on Tuesday.

Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Syria is disintegrating, and thousands of refugees could soon be seeking escape across the border into the Golan. Millions have already fled to neighboring Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, said Eisenkot.

The IDF would act to prevent a massive influx into Israel, but would take action if necessary to prevent their slaughter, he said.

“If a large number of refugees comes to the border from the combat zones, we will do what is needed to prevent a massacre,” Eisenkot said, according to a person who was present at the Knesset briefing.

The IDF chief’s remarks follow several days of intense pressure from the Israeli Druze community for urgent assistance for their endangered brethren across the border. Jihadists massacred 20 Druze in the Idlib region last week.

The IDF has reportedly sent word to the Nusra Front through the Free Syrian Army, warning the Islamist group not to harm Syria’s Druze population.

The Israeli military began putting up a field hospital on the border, but suspended work, as the situation has calmed, at least temporarily.

Also on Tuesday, the IDF and Israel Police declared a section of the northeast Golan Heights a closed military zone. Civilians who are not local residents, such as tourists, will be barred from the area until further notice, according to media reports.

The closure is designed to keep civilians away from the border fence, so as not to disrupt  IDF security activities. It is not directly related to the Syrian fighting, IDF sources said.

The closure was lifted only hours later, on Tuesday evening. At that time, it was made known that it was intended to prevent demonstrations by Israeli Druze at the border area, The Jerusalem Post reported.

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