800 Syrian rescue workers flee country via Israel

July 23, 2018 by Yona Schnitzer - TPS
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Eight hundred Syrians affiliated with the White Helmet civil rescue organisation entered Israel from Quneitra in southern Syria Saturday night. IDF soldiers met the refugees and transferred them to a secure site in northern Jordan.

Photo: TPS

The operation was carried out following requests by the United States as well as several European countries asking Israel to act swiftly to rescue members of the organization and their families. The international community feared that the return of the Syrian Army to the region would put them in immediate danger, as the White Helmets are a rebel organization, opposed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

According to the German tabloid Bild, the operation commenced at around 9 pm on Saturday night, when White Helmet members and their families arrived at an agreed upon crossing point adjacent to the Israeli border. The IDF opened the gates and helped load the fleeing Syrians onto busses, which then took them to Jordan, while also providing medical care and handing out food and water. By sunrise, all 800 Syrians had been successfully evacuated.

“The transfer of the refugees via Israel was carried out as an unusual humanitarian gesture, and they were transferred from Israel to a neighboring country,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement, adding that Israel “does not intervene with the inner-fighting in Syria, and continues to see the Syrian regime as responsible for all actions within Syria.”

 

Mohammed al-Kayed, a spokesman for the Jordanian Foreign Ministry, added that the operation was approved and carried out due to “purely humanitarian reasons,” adding that the refugees will remain in a closed cam within Jordan, where they will wait to be relocated to Western countries. Al-Kayed said that Britain, Germany and Canada have pledged to resettle the refugees within of three months.

The operation followed an IDF announcement last Wednesday that the IDF’s Bashan division had carried out six special operations over the past two weeks to transfer food and supplies to makeshift refugee camps along the Syrian border. Thousands of Syrians began amassing on the border, with no access to food, water or electricity, following a massive Syrian military offensive in the Daraa province that began in early July .

The IDF said it had transferred a total of 72 tons of food, 9,000 liters of fuel, and 70 tents, as well as clothing and medical supplies.

“The IDF will continue to monitor the events in southern Syria, and is prepared for a wide range of scenarios, including granting the Syrians humanitarian aid,” an IDF statement read,  adding that “the IDF will not allow the entry of Syrians into Israeli territory, and will continue to maintain the security interests of the State of Israel.”

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder has praised Israel, with the assistance of the United States, Jordan, Canada, and the EU, for its “critical humanitarian intervention and efforts” in helping hundreds of Syrian ‘White Helmet’ rescue workers and their families flee in a daring overnight  evacuation as part of the wider ongoing “Good Neighbor” operation.

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, together with US President Donald Trump, Jordanian King Abdullah II, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and the Western powers involved in today’s critical humanitarian intervention have proven that the provision of humanitarian assistance, no matter how dangerous, takes precedence and prevalence over political considerations,” Lauder said.

“Over the last few years, Israel has saved the lives of thousands of wounded Syrians, opening its borders and hospitals to those in need from an enemy nation. Hundreds and thousands of Syrians are still living in imminent danger, and it is beyond praiseworthy to witness the efforts being made on their behalf,” Lauder said.

The Zionist Federation of Australia praised the government of Israel and the Israel Defence Forces for facilitating the rescue of hundreds of “white helmets.

President of the ZFA, Dr. Danny Lamm said, “Israel has continued its long tradition of worldwide humanitarian aid regardless of race, colour or creed.  When lives are at risk Israel stands ready to assist even when the effort involves rescuing people from an enemy state.”

He continued, “This operation, carried out at the request of the US, in cooperation with Jordan and with the support of Canada, the UK and Germany, shows what amazing feats can be achieved through international cooperation. It is also a continuation of the life-saving efforts that Israel has made in looking after sick and injured families from Syria, as is evident by the number of Syrian patients in Safed’s Ziv hospital and other hospitals around Israel.  Unsurprisingly, the genocidal Syrian government has condemned the Israeli-led operation underscoring the importance and urgency of the mission.”

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