Conflict & Justice

Israel to take in Syria refugees?


Israeli soldiers operate along Israel's border with Syria.


Uriel Sinai

What if the Syrian government fell, prompting an influx of refugees into neighboring countries?

At least one country -- Israel, an official enemy of Syria -- is planning for just that. And you know what? They are "preparing to take in" refugees in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Israel's military chief said, according to Reuters

"On the day that the regime falls, it is expected to result in a blow to the Alawite sect. We are preparing to take in Alawite refugees on the Golan Heights."

Alawite is the sect of Syria's President, Bashar al-Assad. Sectarian violence, some of which is directed at Alawites, has flared up since the anti-regime revolt began 10 months ago. 

But while the Israeli general's semi-offer on its face seems generous, Israel unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights in 1981, after seizing it in the 1967 war and in a move that was not recognized internationally.

Israel's military chief, Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz, seemed to suggest hosting Alawite refugees might prevent Assad from lashing out at Israel as a last-minute ditch effort to save his government: 

"You must take into account that their firing systems remain intact and maintained. [...] I am not sure that as the events continue the Golan Heights will remain quiet. It could be, under certain circumstances, as a lifesaver, he could act against us."

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