The IDF has provided humanitarian aid, including much-needed food and water, to Syrian citizens trapped in towns adjacent to the Israeli border, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon revealed on Tuesday.
Speaking during a tour of the Syrian border, a day after a mortar shell hit the town of Majdal Shams and IDF troops came under fire in the southern Golan Heights, the defense minister said Israel could not remain silent in face of the raging humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country to the north.
“In light of the fact that the villages here are besieged and have no access to other places, we are assisting them for humanitarian reasons,” Ya’alon said. “We provide water, food, baby food and other humanitarian assistance.”
There was no immediate indication of what other “humanitarian assistance” was being provided by the Israeli military, but at the beginning of 2013 the IDF set up a field hospital on the border to treat Syrians injured in the civil war.
According to Haaretz, a transfer of Israeli goods to the Syrian villages is mediated by UNDOF, the UN peacekeeping mission on the Golan Heights. Soldiers often dropped off aid packages across the border and villagers collected them shortly thereafter, the report added.
Monday’s attacks from across the border were believed by the IDF to be an inadvertent spillover from violence in Syria, not an intentional assault on Israeli forces. No Israeli soldiers or citizens were injured in either one of the incidents.
Though the shooting attack was most probably initiated by a lone Syrian soldier, Ya’alon said, Israel would not accept any violation of its sovereignty.
“The incident was a local initiative of a Syrian soldier who aimed a weapon and fired at the Israeli position,” he said. “No one will violate our sovereignty, and whoever tries to violate it will get hurt.”
In the wake of the attacks, Israel’s ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor filed a letter of complaint to the UN Secretary General and the Security Council. Prosor on Monday urged the Security Council to condemn the attacks and to prevent recurring violations of the Syrian armistice agreement on the Golan Heights.
Since the start of the civil war in Syria in March 2011, dozens of mortar shells have landed in Israeli territory.
In the past, Israel has filed complaints with the peacekeeping forces in the Golan, requesting that the UN bring an end to the cross-border shelling.
While most incidents are unintentional spillovers, occasionally IDF soldiers and positions are purposely targeted.
In September, an Israeli army patrol took fire along the Syrian border in the northern Golan Heights. No injuries were reported in that incident.
In mid-August, after 10 shells landed in Israeli territory, the IDF launched a Tammuz missile, destroying a Syrian cannon that had fired at Israel.
The Times of Israel staff contributed to this report