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June 17, 2015 2:51 pm

Report: Israeli Druze Organizing Medical Efforts to Help Syrian Refugees in Golan

avatar by Eliezer Sherman

The IDF declared a portion of northeast Golan Heights a closed military zone. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The IDF declared a portion of the northeast Golan Heights a closed military zone. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Druze doctors and medical practitioners from Israel’s northern Golan and Galilee regions are gearing up to establish a field hospital intended for Druze communities under fire in the fighting in neighboring Syria, Israeli NRG news reported on Wednesday.

Amid demonstrations on Wednesday in support of providing assistance to Druze in Syria, residents from villages throughout North Israel called on coreligionists with medical backgrounds to prepare to provide aid to their Syrian coreligionists, who number in the hundreds of thousands.

Youni Mariah, an emergency medical assistant, told NRG many Druze were already heeding the call.

“The idea is to receive our brothers in Syria and to provide them with professional medical treatment because they lack medical equipment and personnel,” he said. “For now we have a few dozen volunteers, and we’re organizing in an official way and calling on anyone with such a background to volunteer and join us.”

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The report came just a day after the Israel Defense Forces chief, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, told an Israeli parliamentary committee on defense on Tuesday that the IDF would prevent any killing of refugees seeking shelter on the Israeli border.

Separately, Israeli reports indicated that the IDF was prepared to set up a safe zone for Druze seeking shelter from the fighting in Syria, with protection of Israeli guns.

Last week, members of the al-Nusra Front, which has been battling the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, massacred at least 20 Druze in a village in northwestern Syria over a conflict that erupted between a member of the Front and Druze who claimed loyalty to Assad.

On Tuesday, Israel briefly declared a portion of the Golan Heights near the Syrian border a closed military zone, citing the gradual encroachment of rebel activity. On Wednesday, Syrian rebels launched a wide campaign against Syrian army positions in the Golan.

Concerns for Syria’s Druze community have gone up over the advance of al-Nusra Front fighters into the Golan region, as well as the advance of the Islamic State to the Mount Druze region, about 37 miles from the border with Jordan.

The Syrian Druze community is the Middle East’s largest, at more than 700,000 individuals. The group has mostly stayed out of the fighting in Syria, which began more than four years ago.

Israel has provided medical assistance to Syrian victims of the civil war for several years, even treating some in Israeli hospitals.

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