MK Chetboun: Israel Can't Help Syrian Refugees

Guidelines sought to keep Syrian border from becoming like the Sinai border was before the barrier.

David Lev,

Free Syrian Army fighters in Damascus
Free Syrian Army fighters in Damascus

Israel cannot, and must not, the “shelter of last resort for the suffering masses of the Middle East,” said Jewish Home MK Yoni Chetboun, in a letter to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Sunday. “Humanitarian aid is important, but Israel is not and cannot be the shelter for all those suffering in this region,” he wrote.

Chetboun wrote the letter in the wake of reports that the IDF had taken seven wounded Syrians to an Israeli hospital. The Syrians had been wounded in fighting between government forces and Syrian rebel groups close to the Golan border fence. Seeing their suffering, IDF soldiers took them into Israel, and they were taken to Ziv Hospital in Tzfat for treatment.

While Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that the incident was not a precedent, and that Israel had no plans to intervene in any way in the conflict in Syria, Chetboun wrote that when word gets out of the incident, Israel shouldn't be surprised if it is inundated with requests by tens of thousands of refugees for assistance. Based on Israel's experience at the southern border – with infiltration by African refugees finally under control after much effort – a policy must be developed for refugees on the northern border, whom he believes will try to enter Israel.

That policy must be developed, he added, “before we find ourselves dealing with tens of thousands of refugees on the Syrian border. The Committee must deal with this issue immediately,” he added.

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