IDF ready to protect Druze town from Syrian rebels

Sheikh Mowafak Abu Tariff the chief spiritual leader of the Druze in Israel and former minister Saleh Tarif with Northern Divison commander Yoel Strick

The Israel Defense Forces will prevent the village of Khadr, near its northern border, from being run over by the militants "out of a commitment to the Druze population", the IDF said in a highly unusual statement of allegiance to a group that is seen as loyal to Syria's contested president, Bashar Assad. It added that allegations of Israeli involvement and assistance to global jihadi elements in the fighting on the Golan Heights are "groundless".

The PA's foreign ministry charged in a statement on Saturday that Israel's announcement that it would defend the village of Hader was actually a forced reversal of Israeli policy.

The attack hit the village of Hader, populated by members of the Druze majority, which lies near the disengagement line that divides the Syrian-controlled part of the Golan from that occupied by Israel.

Syrian rebel groups launched an attack on Syrian government-held areas in Quneitra on Friday, with the aim of connecting two insurgent-held areas.

A auto bomb killed at least nine people and injured 23 in the town, which is approximately three kilometres from the border of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The SOHR said government troops and allied fighters were among the casualties of Friday's clashes.


Around 10 of them entered the buffer zone, the Israeli army said, before forces caught them and returned them to the Israeli-occupied side.

Israel seized 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it, a move never recognised by the worldwide community.

Syrian state media have accused Israel of engineering the jihadist attack on the town.

The statement came after hundreds of Druze residents of Israel gathered at the border in support of their relatives on the Syrian side, according to Israel's Channel 2 News. The army said they damaged "security infrastructure" in the process. "We do, however, provide humanitarian aid to young boys and girls", Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in June.

Israel has also provided medical treatment to thousands of people wounded in the fighting in Syria. Those include the violation of Israeli sovereignty through deliberate or accidental attacks, Iranian-supported militias taking positions on the Golan border, and attempts to transfer advanced weapons to the Hezbollah terrorist group.

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