Syrian Druse could flee to Israel as Assad may abandon them to ISIS

  • mwolverine

    Posts: 5685

    Jun 11, 2015 2:19 PM GMT
    Israel, the "enemy" you run away TO (not from)

    Syrian Druse could flee to Israel as Assad may abandon them to ISIS

    Heads of Israeli Druse community raise concern for their brethren in Syria.

    Syrian Druse near the Israeli border are under threat from the Islamic State as the Assad regime withdraws its forces from the area, Druse sources told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

    President Bashar Assad’s forces are weakening in Druse areas, including near the village of Hader, close to the border on the Golan Heights, Channel 1 reported on Sunday evening.

    Israel is closely following developments in case Druse residents flee to Israel because of the jihadist threat.

    Meanwhile, the heads of the Israeli Druse community raised their concerns for their brethren in Syria in meetings with senior Israeli security officials, according to the report.

    Eyad Bos, a Druse who comes from the Golan village of Bukata, told the Post the Islamic State is approaching and preparing to attack the Syrian Druse city of Sweida, close to Jordan.

    Bos, who has relatives in Sweida and elsewhere in Syria, said family members in Sweida say they are unsure if an attack will be tomorrow or a matter of hours.

    Rather, Bos believes it is more likely Druse living in Hader will flee to Israel if there is a risk to their lives since Sweida is quite a distance away.

    Mendi Safadi, an Israeli Druse who in the past served as Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara’s chief of staff, told the Post on Monday there is an “existential threat” to Druse living in southern Syria.

    While in the past Syrian Druse supported Assad, things are changing, said Safadi, who estimates that the majority now oppose the regime.

    Safadi, who has traveled in the region and met with activists, said the Syrian Druse refused a request from the regime to send thousands of their young men to fight for it and, as a result, Assad has pulled back forces from Druse areas exposing them to the jihadists.

    Assad is setting the stage for the Druse to be slaughtered by Islamic State, which will play into his hands since he has all along said he is fighting a barbaric terrorist group, Safadi said.

    Joel Parker, a researcher on Syria from the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, told the Post the jihadist threat to the Druse appears to be real, partly because they cannot easily arm themselves since Assad does not want there to be independent Druse militias.

    Parker sees an opportunity for Israel and Jordan to extend a helping hand, but without getting too deeply involved.

    “Even without direct ties there could be ways in which Israel could use its leverage with the rebels in the South” in order to encourage them to leave the Druse alone, he said.
  • mwolverine

    Posts: 5685

    Jun 11, 2015 2:46 PM GMT
    Calls for aid to Syria's Druze after al Qaeda kills 20

    Fighters from Syria's al Qaeda branch, the Nusra Front, have killed at least 20 Druze villagers, raising fear for one of Syria's minorities as insurgents including Sunni Islamists gain ground against President Bashar al-Assad.

    Druze in Lebanon and Israel have made separate appeals for their Syrian kin to be armed to defend themselves from groups such as Nusra and the more powerful Islamic State, which has persecuted both minorities and fellow Sunnis.
  • mwolverine

    Posts: 5685

    Jun 18, 2015 3:39 AM GMT
    Israel vows to protect refugees amid fears for Syrian Druze

    Jerusalem (AFP) - Israel pledged Tuesday to protect any refugees who fled towards the Jewish state after a rebel offensive in Syria and Islamist violence there raised fears about the Druze minority's safety.

    Without mentioning the Druze, Israel's military chief of staff chief Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot said the authorities were preparing for a possible influx of Syrian refugees and would prevent a potential massacre at the border.

    "The reality in the Golan Heights, where internal fighting is near the border with Israel, is of great concern to us, including the possibility we might have to deal with refugees from Syria arriving at the border," Eisenkot told a parliamentary committee, his words conveyed by a spokesman.

    "We will take measures to prevent a situation where refugees are massacred. Our action would be humanitarian," he was quoted as saying.
  • mwolverine

    Posts: 5685

    Jun 20, 2015 11:46 PM GMT
    With Druze facing possible massacre in Syria, Israel is forced to take a stand
    The encroachment this week by extremist rebels on the Druze village of Khader in Syria is a microcosm of the predicament the greater community is facing; Israeli Druze compare their concern for a religiously motivated massacre on their brethren to Israeli fears of attacks on Jews abroad.

    || The Syrian-Druze village of Khader, about a stone’s throw from the border with Israel on the Golan Heights, was this week the chief concern of Israel’s 130,000 Druze citizens.

    || Earlier in the week, the village’s 12,000 inhabitants, who are Syrian citizens, found themselves in the eye of the storm. On Monday, two Syrian army soldiers who were serving in a military outpost next to Khader killed their commanding officer, a Druze, before defecting to the ranks of the extremist rebel organization Nusra Front. The next day, the Sunni rebels seized additional, strategic hills in proximity to the village and took over two Syrian army positions, after driving out the regime-supporting soldiers. Some of the mortars the rebels fired at the army forces landed on the edge of Khader. One Druze girl was killed, and about 10 residents were wounded.

    || In the context of the big picture of the civil war in Syria – where thousands of people are massacred every month and millions have become refugees who might never be able to return home – the events in Khader are barely a blip on the radar. But the outposts that were captured lie barely two kilometers away from Khader, and the fighting around the village is highly visible from the Druze villages on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights – and particularly from the IDF positions on Mount Hermon.

    || At the moment, the rebels are not advancing further toward Khader. They probably know that many residents are armed and are organizing to defend their families. The warnings from Israel have also likely had an effect: By means of contacts with some of the local militias from the Syrian part of the Golan Heights – mainly in the form of transfers of wounded people to hospitals in Israel – it was made clear that Israel will not sit by idly in case of an attempt to attack and capture the village.

    || Nusra Front leader Abu Mohammed al-Joulani threatened recently that when his organization enters Druze villages, it will demand that the inhabitants convert to Islam. If they refuse, they will be treated according to the dictates of sharia law, he said. The message came across loud and clear to the Druze: Anyone who refuses to convert will be executed. Indeed, about 20 Druze clerics were murdered by Nusra forces in a village in northern Syria earlier this month.

    || Close ties exist between Khader and the four Druze villages on the Israeli part of the Golan Heights. When the IDF captured the Golan Heights in 1967, Khader remained on the other side of the line. But for a few months, from the Yom Kippur War in October 1973 until the separation-of-forces agreements in the spring of 1974, the village was under Israeli control.

    || In recent years, the Israeli government and the Druze leadership in Galilee and the Mount Carmel regions have made a coordinated effort to bring about a rapprochement with the Golan Heights Druze. As Assad’s situation worsened and he became involved in horrific massacres, the Golan Druze began to distance themselves from him. These days it’s hard to find a picture of the Syrian president on the walls of restaurants in Majdal Shams (in the Israeli Golan), though until the outbreak of the civil war his portrait was everywhere. The solidarity drive with the Druze in Syria is now being led by the community in Israel proper; the Druze in Majdal Shams and neighboring Buqata generally maintain communications silence.

    || Like much else in Syria, the fate of the encircled village hangs by a thread.
  • mwolverine

    Posts: 5685

    Jun 23, 2015 5:37 PM GMT
    And now a strange twist:

    Golan Druze attack Israeli army ambulance, Syrian casualty dies

    || Druze villagers on the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights attacked an Israeli military ambulance on Monday and one of two Syrian casualties it was carrying from the civil war next door died, police said.

    || The incident in the Golan village of Majdal Shams overlooking Syrian territory was the second attack by Druze on an Israeli army ambulance in less than 24 hours and underscored Druze concern for brethren caught up in Syria's civil war.

    || Israeli Police said villagers threw rocks and other missiles at the ambulance, inflicting extensive damage and causing a deterioration of the condition of the two wounded Syrians, who were initially said not to be in life-threatening condition.

    || The second wounded Syrian was being treated at an Israeli hospital and was in serious condition and two Israeli military ambulance crew were lightly hurt, police and the army said.

    || "This is a very grave incident. We will not permit anybody to take the law into their own hands, and we will not allow anyone to hamper Israeli soldiers in the course of their duty," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. "I call on Druze leaders to act immediately to calm tensions," he said.

    || Ayoob Kara, a Druze deputy Israeli minister, sought to reassure his kinsmen about Syrian casualties coming into Israel. In a statement, Kara said Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon had told him Israel would not admit fighters from radical jihadi groups Islamic State or Nusra Front. Israeli officials have said they did not make treatment conditional on casualties' affiliations.

    || In a statement, Sheikh Muwafaq Tarif, spiritual head of Israel's Druze community, condemned the confrontation as "the kind of provocation that harms our interests and those of our Druze brothers over the border". "This is our moment of truth," he said. "The Druze religion and tradition opposes any physical harm, especially against wounded people."
  • mwolverine

    Posts: 5685

    Jun 25, 2015 3:15 PM GMT
  • mwolverine

    Posts: 5685

    Jun 30, 2015 2:13 PM GMT
    Israel acknowledges it is helping Syrian rebel fighters
    Defense minister says Jerusalem assists insurgents in exchange for promise Druze will be kept out of harm’s way

    || Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Monday that Israel has been providing aid to Syrian rebels, thus keeping the Druze in Syria out of immediate danger. Israeli officials have previously balked at confirming on the record that the country has been helping forces that are fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    || “We’ve assisted them under two conditions,” Ya’alon said of the Israeli medical aid to the Syrian rebels, some of whom are presumably fighting with al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad. “That they don’t get too close to the border, and that they don’t touch the Druze.”