Druze spiritual leader welcomes Ya’alon statements
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Live updates (closed)Latest: Marianne sighted off Ashdod shore

Druze welcome support for Syria brethren, seek reassurances

Community's spiritual leader approves of Jerusalem assistance to insurgents in exchange for promise Druze will be kept out of harm’s way

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

  • Workers on the Israeli 'Tamar' gas processing rig, 24 km off the Israeli southern coast of Ashkelon. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)
    Workers on the Israeli 'Tamar' gas processing rig, 24 km off the Israeli southern coast of Ashkelon. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, June 28, 2015. (Flash90/Alex Kolomoisky)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, June 28, 2015. (Flash90/Alex Kolomoisky)
  • A Palestinian demonstrator holds a placard in support of Khader Adnan outside the Red Cross building in East Jerusalem in 2012, during Adnan's first hunger strike. (Sliman Khader/Flash90)
    A Palestinian demonstrator holds a placard in support of Khader Adnan outside the Red Cross building in East Jerusalem in 2012, during Adnan's first hunger strike. (Sliman Khader/Flash90)
  • The Marianne of Gothenburg, a Swedish-flagged trawler leading a flotilla of boats sailing for the Gaza Strip, June 2015. (YouTube/Ship to Gaza Sweden)
    The Marianne of Gothenburg, a Swedish-flagged trawler leading a flotilla of boats sailing for the Gaza Strip, June 2015. (YouTube/Ship to Gaza Sweden)
  • Pro-Palestinian activists aboard the Marianne as it makes its way toward the Gaza Strip, Sunday June 28, 2015. (Freedom Flotilla III)
    Pro-Palestinian activists aboard the Marianne as it makes its way toward the Gaza Strip, Sunday June 28, 2015. (Freedom Flotilla III)
  • Supporters of Israel rallying outside the UN building in Geneva as the Human Rights Council met, June 29,  2015 (World Jewish Congress)
    Supporters of Israel rallying outside the UN building in Geneva as the Human Rights Council met, June 29, 2015 (World Jewish Congress)

The Times of Israel live-blogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.

Ya’alon says Druze not in danger from rebels

The Druze in Syria are not in immediate danger from approaching Islamist forces, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon says, adding that Israel’s ongoing humanitarian assistance to Syrian rebel fighters, a source of surging conflict between Israel and its own Druze population, actually safeguards the minority population in Syria.

“We assisted them under two conditions,” Ya’alon says of the Israeli medical aid provided to the Syrian rebels, some of whom are presumably fighting with al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front. “That they don’t get too close to the border, and that they don’t touch the Druze.”

The Druze on Israel’s side of the Golan, Ya’alon charges, acted “irresponsibly” last week by attacking an Israeli ambulance carrying wounded Syrian rebel fighters. One person was killed and another injured during what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu termed a “lynching.” The man who was killed did not belong to al-Nusra Front, and his death will now provoke calls for revenge, Ya’alon states.

Druze watch the bombing between Syrian forces from the Israeli side of the border with Syria in the Golan Heights due, on June 16, 2015. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Druze watch the bombing between Syrian forces from the Israeli side of the border with Syria in the Golan Heights due, on June 16, 2015. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

“Our general policy is that we’re not getting involved in the Syrian war,” he stresses, although there are certain red lines Israel insists on maintaining, such as game-changing arms being smuggled to Israel’s enemies. ”We will not tolerate any violation of our sovereignty or even accidental fire from Syria unto our territory or any. We will act immediately to strike at those who plant explosives near the border or fire at us,” Ya’alon declares.

Israel has treated over 1,000 wounded Syrians in its hospitals since the onset of the civil war in 2011.

— Raphael Ahren

Border fence near Eilat okayed

The Ministerial Committee for National Security Affairs adopts a proposal by the prime minister to resume construction of a security fence from Eilat to the nearby Timna airport.

The security fence, which is set to be about 30 kilometers long, will be built on the Israeli side of the border with Jordan, Ynet reports.

Israel may leave UNHRC, PM says

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is considering leaving the UN Human Rights Council in wake of a report on possible war crimes committed during last summer’s Gaza conflict, according to Army Radio.

Netanyahu’s announcement comes during a meeting with top Israeli diplomats, among them former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman, who reminds the prime minister that Israel had pulled out of the UN Human Rights Council in the past, but Netanyahu chose to rejoin the council a short while later.

Marianne ship en route to Ashdod port

The Swedish-registered Marianne of Gothenburg, a ship that was headed for the Gaza Strip overnight Sunday-Monday, is on its way to the Ashdod port after Israeli Navy commandos took control of the vessel earlier this morning.

The interception occurred without incident and there were no injuries, the IDF says.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated the commandos on “their determined and efficient action in detaining the passengers on the ship that tried to reach the Gaza coast in contravention of the law.”

Earlier, flotilla organizers said that three other boats accompanying the Marianne had turned back to their ports of origin, without explaining why, and that the Marianne was sailing toward Gaza on its own.

Pro-Palestinian activists aboard the Marianne, Sunday June 28, 2015. (Freedom Flotilla III)

Pro-Palestinian activists aboard the Marianne, Sunday June 28, 2015. (Freedom Flotilla III)

There were 18 activists and journalists aboard the Marianne, including the former Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki and Arab-Israeli Knesset member Basel Ghattas.

In May 2010, Israeli commandos intercepted the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, the largest ship in a flotilla dispatched to Gaza by the Turkish relief agency Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), and were violently attacked by those on board, with several soldiers seriously injured. Nine Turkish citizens were killed when the commandos opened fire in what Israel said was self-defense, and one more died last year from injuries sustained in the incident.

UN commission on Gaza war meets in Geneva

The UN Human Rights Council commission of inquiry, which recently published a report on last summer’s Gaza conflict, presents its findings in detail to a committee in Geneva.

Commission chairperson Mary McGowan Davis says during the presentation that the fact Israel had not changed its policies in light of information on the number of fatalities and damage in the Gaza Strip raises concerns about the conduct of top Israeli officials, according to Army Radio. She repeats that Israel may have committed war crimes during the 50-day war.

Davis also stresses that Hamas is not free of responsibility for the conflict’s deadly outcome, as the group had intentionally fired rockets at Israeli civilian centers, and had dug attack tunnels leading from across the border into Israeli territory. She notes that missiles were fired at Israel from populated areas in Gaza, thus endangering Palestinian lives.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Evyatar Manor, stressed earlier today that Israel decided not to cooperate with the committee, as it had singled the Jewish state out and had presented a clear bias in its report.

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Friday December 19, 2014 lands in an open area in the Eshkol region. (Photo credit: Israel Police)

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Friday December 19, 2014, lands in an open area in the Eshkol region. (Israel Police)

Several Israeli residents of communities bordering the Gaza Strip are taking part in protests outside the Geneva hall where the commission is meeting. The demonstrators tell Army Radio that they are protesting the report did not place the blame for the conflict on Hamas, which, they said, had for years fired rockets on Israeli civilians and had thus made life in towns near the Gaza Strip unbearable.

Netanyahu weighing postponement of gas vote

Netanyahu may postpone a vote on a recent cabinet decision to override the Antitrust Authority and implement a controversial agreement regarding the development of Israel’s offshore natural gas reserves, Ynet reports. The vote was scheduled for this afternoon, but the prime minister is apparently concerned he may not garner enough votes to pass the motion.

According to Ynet, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Housing Minister Yoav Galant and Social Affairs Minister Haim Katz have decided not to vote in favor of the agreement.

The vote is the last legal hurdle before a partnership between the US company Noble Energy and the Delek Group of Israel makes them the sole developers of the Tamar and Leviathan natural gas reserves off the coast of Haifa.

The Tamar natural gas field off the coast of Ashkelon (photo credit: Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

The Tamar natural gas field off the coast of Ashkelon (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

Noble and Delek have been selling gas to the Israeli market from the Tamar field, which went online in 2013, and have agreed to sell to neighboring countries as well. The Leviathan field, the largest gas field in the Mediterranean, has not yet been developed.

The Noble-Delek partnership has been branded a de facto monopoly by Antitrust Commissioner David Gilo.

Lebanon man pleads guilty to Cyprus terror charges

A Lebanese man with a Canadian passport pleads guilty to terror charges linked to 8.2 tons of potential bomb-making material found in his Cyprus home, authorities say.

Hussein Bassam Abdallah, 26, appears before the criminal court in the southern coastal town of Larnaca under tight security. He will be sentenced later today.

He pleaded guilty to charges under the terror act of participation in and supporting a terrorist organisation, plus illegal possession and transfer of explosive materials and belonging to a criminal organization.

The charges against him cover the period 2012 until May 27, 2015.

Authorities say the accused has links with the military wing of Lebanon’s Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah.

Reportedly, the case went to trial much quicker than normal because Nicosia wants to underline the message that Cyprus is tough on terrorism.

The official Cyprus News Agency say the suspect has confessed to being a member of Hezbollah but did not divulge what the nitrate was for or what the possible targets might have been.

Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said during a visit to Israel earlier this month that the authorities believed they had thwarted a possible attack on Israeli targets.

Police say the man arrived on the island on May 21 for what he described as a holiday. He was arrested in a Larnaca suburb on May 27 following a surveillance operation.

Media reports say the authorities have not ruled out that the suspect was planning an attack on Israeli interests on the island, which attracts thousands of tourists from nearby Israel every year. There is also an Israeli embassy in the capital Nicosia.

Police are looking for the landlord of the house in which the material was found, after the suspect claimed the ammonium nitrate was not his.

Authorities discovered huge amounts of the fertilizer that can be used to make explosives, stashed in the basement of the man’s temporary residence in Larnaca. The man also had nearly 10,000 euros in his possession when caught.

Ammonium nitrate is a fertilizer that when mixed with other substances can be used to make explosives.

Investigative sources say the seizure is one of the biggest of illegal ammonium nitrate anywhere in the world.

— AFP

Islamic Jihad to celebrate Khader Adnan’s release

The Islamic Jihad terrorist group is planning to conduct celebratory marches tonight in front of 300 mosques in Gaza in order to mark Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan’s ending of a 56-day hunger strike, after Israel agreed to release him, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reports.

Adnan, a 37-year-old senior member of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, has been in prison for a year under administrative detention, which allows imprisonment without charge for renewable periods of six months indefinitely, and his case had been at the heart of concerns in the Palestinian territories.

A Palestinian demonstrator holds a placard in support of Khader Adnan outside the Red Cross building in East Jerusalem in February (photo credit: Sliman Khader/Flash90)

A Palestinian demonstrator holds a placard in support of Khader Adnan outside the Red Cross building in East Jerusalem in 2012, during Adnan’s first hunger strike. (Sliman Khader/Flash90)

Adnan was arrested a year ago, shortly after the kidnapping and murder of three young Israelis, which led to a wave of arrests of hundreds of Palestinians in the West Bank. He had previously carried out a hunger strike that lasted 66 days in 2012 to protest against his detention. He was released at the end of the strike, during which he had ingested vitamins and salt.

This time, he refused to swallow anything except water.

Police arrest Temple Mount rock-throwing suspect

Police arrest a Palestinian man suspected of hurling stones at a group of Jewish visitors at the Temple Mount earlier today. The suspect, a 20-year resident of the West Bank, is taken to a security facility for questioning.

Train workers launch surprise strike

Israel Railways employees begin a surprise strike and order the halt of all train services throughout the country after the Transportation Ministry requested the addition of more train lines to Tel Aviv but did not consult with workers on the matter.

Services resume after a 20-minute stall, Ynet reports.

Palestinian stabber wanted to ‘murder soldier’

Misun Moussa, a 20-year-old Palestinian woman who stabbed an Israel Defense Forces soldier at a checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Bethlehem, says she intended to “murder an army representative,” according to Shin Bet interrogators.

The female IDF soldier sustained moderate to serious wounds in the stabbing attack, which occurred at around 11 a.m. The victim was evacuated to Hadassah Medical Center, Ein Kerem, in Jerusalem.

Police said that two more knives had been found in Moussa’s bag.

Liberman’s party to vote nay on gas agreement

Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman says his party will vote against a cabinet decision to override the Antitrust Authority and implement a controversial agreement on the development of Israel’s offshore natural gas reserves, according to Ynet.

“My back will not serve as a trampoline,” Liberman says.

Israel Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman speaks during a party meeting at the Knesset,  June 15, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman at a party meeting at the Knesset, June 15, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“If the prime minister is concerned over the gas market, he should instruct the economy minister to sign the gas outline.”

The Knesset vote is the last legal hurdle before a partnership between the US company Noble Energy and the Delek Group of Israel makes them the sole developers of the Tamar and Leviathan natural gas reserves off the coast of Haifa.

Noble and Delek have been selling gas to the Israeli market from the Tamar field, which went online in 2013, and have agreed to sell to neighboring countries as well. The Leviathan field, the largest gas field in the Mediterranean, has not yet been developed.

The Noble-Delek partnership has been branded a de facto monopoly by Antitrust Commissioner David Gilo.

Economy Minister Aryeh Deri, who would have had the power to overrule Gilo, announced last week that he would not exercise his authority, forcing Netanyahu to bring the matter to a cabinet vote.

Egypt prosecutor killed after bombing

Egypt’s state prosecutor is announced killed after a powerful bomb hit his convoy in the capital, officials say. The bombing came after jihadists urged attacks on the judiciary to punish a crackdown on Islamists.

The bomb destroyed several cars and blew out storefront windows in the upscale district of Heliopolis. At least five vehicles were completely gutted in the explosion.

The prosecutor Hisham Barakat was taken to hospital with a dislocated shoulder and a cut to his nose, a health ministry official told the state MENA news agency. A doctor at the hospital told AFP he had also suffered severe “internal bleeding in the chest.”

— AFP

Body found near Ashdod marina

The body of a 20-year-old man is found on the shore near the Ashdod marina. Police suspect it is the body of a person declared missing last Saturday.

Thousands protest in Geneva against UN report

Nearly 1,000 participants from dozens of countries take part in a Geneva rally to express their support for the State of Israel, in wake of a report on possible war crimes committed during last summer’s Gaza conflict. Members of more than 80 NGOs, including many Jews and Christians, travel to the Swiss city to express their support for the Jewish state and to urge the UN to treat Israel fairly, according to a press release by the World Jewish Congress.

The rally comes as the UN Human Rights Council commission of inquiry, which recently published a report on last summer’s Gaza conflict, presents its findings in detail to a committee in Geneva.

“My four little sons were born into a 15-second reality: the time between the rocket alert and the explosion. When they turned two, we had already trained them to run for cover,” Ofir Libstein, a resident of Kibbutz Kfar Azza, which is one kilometer away from the Gaza Strip, says during the rally. “Nitzan, my 11-year-old, was waiting for his soccer training to begin when a rocket attack started. Ever since, he cannot sleep by himself. Every alert and every explosion makes him relive the attack.”

Supporters of Israel rallying outside the U. office at Geneva, June 29,  2015 (World Jewish Council)

Supporters of Israel rallying outside the U. office at Geneva, June 29, 2015 (World Jewish Council)

Adele Raemer, a resident of Kibbutz Nirim, describes how the residents at the kibbutz were nearly murdered last year when terrorists emerged from an attack tunnel. “I am disappointed by the tone at times of the Human Rights Council which insinuates that Israel does not demand accountability from its army,” she says. “I know that in the process of protecting my community, our soldiers have put their lives at risk to save innocent Palestinian lives, aborting vital missions when noncombatant Palestinians were in harm’s way.”

French minister: No new deadline for Iran talks

France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says Iran nuclear talks will go past their June 30 target date and the negotiators have deliberately decided not to set a new date to conclude negotiations.

He told a group of reporters that “we have made some progress, but still it is not the end of the process.”

Fabius says the Iranians have specific questions about how the lifting of sanctions will work “and some other elements.”

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius leaves the Elysee Palace in Paris on June 24, 2015 (AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET)

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius leaves the Elysee Palace in Paris on June 24, 2015 (AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET)

He says the six major powers negotiating with Iran are also “asking some precision,” but he refused to elaborate.

Fabius says France insists that any agreement must be “robust,” warning that if it isn’t, some countries in the region, which he didn’t name, “will push to become nuclear as well,” which would be dangerous.

— AP

Druze spiritual leader welcomes Ya’alon statements

The spiritual leader of Israel’s Druze, Sheikh Moafaq Tarif, welcomes Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s statements saying Israel’s ongoing humanitarian assistance to Syrian rebel fighters, a source of growing conflict between Israel and its own Druze population, safeguards the minority population in Syria.

“We welcome the defense minister’s explicit statement,” Tarif says. “We are confident that the security establishment will work to ensure the fulfillment of the conditions set by the state regarding the humanitarian assistance to the rebels.”

Spiritual Leader of the Druze Community in Israel Sheikh Moafaq Tarif, October 20, 2013. (photo credit: Mark Neyman/GPO/FLASH90)

Spiritual Leader of the Druze Community in Israel Sheikh Moafaq Tarif, October 20, 2013. (photo credit: Mark Neyman/GPO/FLASH90)

Ya’alon said earlier that Israel has been providing aid to Syrian rebels, thus keeping the Druze in Syria out of immediate danger. Israeli officials have previously balked at confirming on the record that the country has been helping forces that are fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Israel has treated over 1,000 wounded Syrians in its hospitals since the onset of the civil war in 2011.

Kerry says ‘too early’ to tell if Iran deal sealed

US Secretary of State John Kerry warns it is too soon to tell if a nuclear deal with Iran is possible as he awaited the return of Iran’s foreign minister from consultations in Tehran.

“We’re just working and it’s too early to make any judgments,” Kerry tells reporters in Vienna following a weekend of intense talks with counterparts from five other major powers and Iran.

In a possible sign meanwhile of progress, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says he will arrive on Tuesday, coinciding with the expected return of his Iranian opposite number Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Over the weekend officials from both sides made clear that their Tuesday deadline to nail down a deal was highly unlikely to be met, although they said they would only extend by several days.

Zarif flew back home on Sunday night, as did many of the other ministers.

— AFP

UN: IS demolition of heritage sites may be war crime

The UN’s cultural agency says the destruction of antiquities and heritage sites in conflict zones by the Islamic State and other groups could amount to war crimes.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee adopts a resolution condemning “intentional attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes and historic monuments,” saying they “may amount to war crimes.”

The committee, meeting in Bonn, noted the Islamic State’s destruction of the ancient city of Hatra in Iraq and expressed “deep concern” about the Syrian archaeological gem of Palmyra, which the group captured in May. Both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

It says “irreplaceable cultural treasures” are threatened in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Syria and Yemen as are natural world heritage sites in Niger, Congo and other African nations.

— AP

Turkey raps Israel official over expulsions

The commissioner of the Israeli embassy in Turkey, Amira Oron, is summoned to a disciplinary meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Ankara due to the expulsion of seven Turkish citizens from Israel, Ynet reports. The expulsion, which was carried out for security reasons, took place overnight Thursday-Friday last week.

France pushes new Quartet-plus for Mideast peace

France wants a new international group made up of the United States, European powers and Arab countries to be set up to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says.

“It could be a sort of Quartet-plus,” Fabius tells reporters, referring to the foursome led by former British prime minister Tony Blair that comprised the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

Fabius says including Arab states “makes sense” because they have a role to play in the peace process and put forward a plan in 2002 that the foreign minister described as “interesting.”

The 2002 Arab Peace Initiative calls for an Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories in exchange for full normalization of ties between Israel and the Arab world.

Sirens in southern Israel

Red-alert sirens are reported in the southern cities of Ashkelon and Gan Yavne.

Only 5 of 222 Supreme Court interns are Arabs

Out of 222 interns who served in the Supreme Court in the period 2007–2014, only 5 are Arab-Israelis, according to a report by Haaretz.

Seventy-five percent of interns during the same time period are graduates of the Hebrew University or the University of Tel Aviv, the statement adds.

And out of 15 Supreme Court justices, only one, Salim Jubran, is an Arab Israeli.

UN access to suspected Iran sites okayed — US

An arrangement has been reached in talks between Iran and major powers towards a nuclear deal that will give the UN atomic-watchdog access to all sites that are suspect, a senior US official says.

“The entry point isn’t that we must be able to get into every military site — because the United States of America wouldn’t allow anybody to get into every military site — so that’s not appropriate,” the official states.

“But if, in the context of the agreement… the IAEA believes it needs access, and has a reason for that access, then we have a process [whereby] that access is given,” the US representative says on condition of anonymity.

“We have worked out a process that we believe will ensure that the IAEA has the access it needs.”

Red-alert sirens — false alarm

The red-alert sirens in the southern cities of Ashkelon and Gan Yavne are false alarms, caused by a technical malfunction.

Netanyahu secretly underwent medical procedures

Prime Minister Netanyahu secretly underwent two medical procedures in the past year, according to Channel 2.

In one case, the prime minister was transferred from his Jerusalem residence to the hospital in a vehicle disguised as a pesticide truck, and in the other, in a pita-delivery truck.

PM: Iran deal may lead to Mideast nuclear arms race

Prime Minister Netanyahu says the emerging agreement between Iran and world powers may lead the entire Middle East into a nuclear arms race.

Speaking at the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Netanyahu adds that Iran is arming Hezbollah with advanced weapons systems.

He continues that Israel’s efforts against Iran have so far stopped the Islamic Republic from developing a nuclear missile. He stresses that Israel retains the right to self-defense.

Clashes between settlers, Palestinians in West Bank

Violent clashes break out between settlers and some 250 Palestinians near the West Bank outpost of Esh Kodesh.

The incident, which includes stone-throwing and punching, comes amid a dispute over land ownership.

Police and IDF soldiers are in the area, and are attempting to break up the melee.

Marianne sighted off Ashdod shore

The Swedish-registered Marianne of Gothenburg, a ship that was headed for the Gaza Strip but was intercepted by the IDF, is sighted off the shore of Ashdod, Army Radio reports.

The interception occurred without incident and there were no injuries, the IDF said. The ship is being taken to the Ashdod port, after which the activists on board will likely be deported, as Israeli officials warned earlier.

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Live updates (closed) Latest: Marianne sighted off Ashdod shore

Druze spiritual leader welcomes Ya’alon statements

The spiritual leader of Israel’s Druze, Sheikh Moafaq Tarif, welcomes Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s statements saying Israel’s ongoing humanitarian assistance to Syrian rebel fighters, a source of growing conflict between Israel and its own Druze population, safeguards the minority population in Syria.

“We welcome the defense minister’s explicit statement,” Tarif says. “We are confident that the security establishment will work to ensure the fulfillment of the conditions set by the state regarding the humanitarian assistance to the rebels.”

Spiritual Leader of the Druze Community in Israel Sheikh Moafaq Tarif, October 20, 2013. (photo credit: Mark Neyman/GPO/FLASH90)
Spiritual Leader of the Druze Community in Israel Sheikh Moafaq Tarif, October 20, 2013. (photo credit: Mark Neyman/GPO/FLASH90)

Ya’alon said earlier that Israel has been providing aid to Syrian rebels, thus keeping the Druze in Syria out of immediate danger. Israeli officials have previously balked at confirming on the record that the country has been helping forces that are fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Israel has treated over 1,000 wounded Syrians in its hospitals since the onset of the civil war in 2011.