The IDF does not expect a demand for massive numbers of Syrian refugees to cross into Israel to flee the fighting in southern Syria, a military official said on Sunday.
“Syrians will not run to the fence,” said Lt. Col. “Aleph,” who heads the humanitarian assistance program for the refugees. He could not be named for security reasons.
“First of all, we will not allow it. Second, there is a big, big difference between getting help from Israel, getting treated in Israel, and coming to live in Israel,” he explained in a press briefing by phone on Sunday.
Currently, an estimated 150,000 or more people are in flight from a renewed offensive by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces in the south. After Jordan announced the closure of its border last week, concerns rose that the refugees would turn to Israel for safe haven.
Aleph dismissed claims made in recent days that, on the contrary, the refugees would love to come to Israel, if it were possible.
He acknowledged that they want emergency aid, and that Israel, along with certain Arab countries that could not be identified for political reasons, have been providing that aid. In addition, Israeli and American non-governmental organizations are participating, he said.
Since Assad’s offensive renewed last month, the IDF says it has delivered 30 tons of food, 30 tons of clothes and tons of medical supplies.
“We have seen displaced people [setting up] camps near the Israeli border. It’s not to the border, it’s villages near the border,” many of which are over a mile and a half from the border, said the IDF officer.
People in the camps are living in primitive conditions, without fresh water, electricity and basic shelter.
“People came with nothing,” Aleph said. “So, we have done some humanitarian operations. We brought in tents so they can sit and sleep not under the sky and sun.”