UN Reveals Regular Contacts Between Israeli Army and Syrian Rebels: Reports
Israel began admitting a small number of Syrian fighters for medical treatment in northern Israeli hospitals in March 2013, according to reports.
MOSCOW, December 7 (Sputnik) — United Nations (UN) observers in the Golan Heights border territory between Israel and Syria have submitted a series of reports to the UN Security Council detailing regular contacts between members of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and radical Islamist Syrian opposition forces, UN Tribune says.
“UN troops monitoring the 1974 ceasefire between Israel and Syria have witnessed interactions between members of the Israeli Defence Forces and the Al Nusra Front who have taken over a large part of the Golan Heights,” the news site stated.
The reports, made available on the UN Security Council’s website, state that beginning in March of 2013, Israel began admitting Syrian fighters for medical treatment in northern Israeli hospitals. The UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) refuted Israel’s assertions that the contacts were with civilians who had reached the border independently. One report revealed that on September 15, a wounded man “was taken by armed members of the opposition across the ceasefire line, where he was transferred to a civilian ambulance escorted by an IDF vehicle.” Another for November 9-19 noted that UNDOF peacekeepers ““observed at least 10 wounded persons being transferred by armed members of the opposition from the Bravo side across the ceasefire line to IDF.”
Records from Israel’s Ministry of Health have revealed that so far about 1,000 Syrians have been treated at four hospitals in the north of Israel, among them fighters from the Free Syrian Army, Israeli news site i24news.tv reported.
i24 further noted that last month, Israel’s Druze minority staged a protest against the hospitalization of wounded fighters with links to the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Israel. i24 explained that Israel’s Druze community, like the Druze communities in Syria and Lebanon, largely support Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria, fearing what may happen to their community should Islamist rebels succeed in toppling him.
Asked by i24 if Israel has hospitalized fighters from al-Nusra and the IS, an IDF spokesman said that “in the past two years the Israeli Defense Forces have been engaged in humanitarian, life-saving aid to wounded Syrians, irrespective of their identity.”
The UNDOF reports showed that IDF/Syrian rebel interactions were not limited to medical assistance. A report issued June 10, 2014 that IDF soldiers were observed handing two boxes, their contents unknown, to Syrian rebels on the Syrian side of the border. The most recent report, documents events from October 27, noted that two IDF soldiers had opened a gate, allowing two unknown people enter Israel from the Syrian side of the border. In the same report, it was noted that Israel had set up tents for 60-70 families of Syrian deserters on the Syrian side of the border, 300 meters from the Israeli side.
Israel’s online news site Haaretz explained that the Syrian army had sent a letter of complaint to UNDOF in September, claiming that the camp was a “base” for “armed terrorists,” and would be seen as a legitimate target for destruction if not taken down by Israel. The UNDOF replied that relocating civilians was not part of its mandates, urging that no attack be carried out, the UN Tribune explained.
Syria’s Ambassador to the UN has spoken out on numerous occasions against the supports Islamist radicals have received from neighboring countries. This past August he told Iran’s PressTV that Islamic militants had concluded an “undeclared alliance with Israel.” The ambassador had made similar comments in October about Saudi Arabia and Turkey, comments later substantiated by US vice president Joe Biden.
The UNDOF was established in 1974 as a buffer between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights; this year regular attacks on peacekeepers on the Syrian side of the border by IS militants had forced most of the peacekeepers to retreat to the Israeli side of the border.