The Druze and Syria – It is Best Israel not Intervene

The Druze in Syria are Assad’s soldiers and work with the Hizballah. Defending them should not be one of the IDF’s objectives

A Syrian flag painted on a wall in the Druze village of Buqata in the Israeli Golan. (Photo, Doron Horvitz Flash90)

This past weekend, the IDF Spokesperson released a statement according to which the IDF is prepared to help the residents of the Druze village of Khader in Syria, and will prevent harm to, or occupation of the village, this out of commitment to the Druze population in Israel. The announcement came amid reports that the rebels had captured two Syrian army posts not far from Khadar and that Assad’s soldiers had responded with artillery fire. According to a report received by the Syrian media, nine people were killed in a suicide attack by the rebels.

In recent weeks, the Sunni rebels have been establishing their hold on the border area, with the Syrian region of Khadar and Hermon being the only ones left under the control of the Assad regime. This fact is a source of concern among Syrian Druze and among the Druze community in Israel.

The Druze in Israel began to pressure the political and military leadership in the country, with the aim of helping their Druze brothers on the other side of the border in the brutal civil war being waged in Syria. At the same time, dozens of Druze were reported to have broken through the border fence and crossed into Syria to help their brothers. They were returned to Israel at the end of a pursuit.

The IDF Spokesperson’s statement that Israel is willing to intervene in Syria in order to protect Syrian civilians is no less than dramatic.

We are talking about a measure that is significantly different than any humanitarian aid that has been provided thus far by the IDF to the rebels, the enemies of the Druze and the Assad regime. This is an unusual statement, contrary to Israel’s policy since its inception.

It is worth asking: Is the defense of hostile Druze villages in Syria or Lebanon part of the IDF’s objectives? Does this mission adhere to the declared objectives of the Israeli defense forces?  At present, the IDF statement is flying under the radar, as if it were the decision of a local commander in the field, which is not the case here. This is a significant strategic and political decision.

Some will say that the IDF  is doing this, among other things, in order to protect the border from Iranian entrenchment. It is important to remember in this case that the Druze in Syria work with Assad and with Iran. The local headquarters of Samir Kuntar, a Druze who fought with Hezbollah, was inside the village of Khadar, from where they launched rockets, carried out attacks and hit IDF soldiers stationed in the Golan Heights. In 2004, for example, they detonated a road side bomb by a paratroopers force from the 202nd battalion.  A paratrooper officer was seriously wounded and three other soldiers were moderately wounded.

“We do not want help from Israel”

It is important to remember that the Druze in the Golan have been hesitant for decades to openly support Israel. Only 1,500 of the 21,000 Druze living in Majdal Shams and the area hold Israeli citizenship. The vast majority refuse to recognize Israel’s sovereignty. Just recently, the leaders of the Druze community in the Golan objected to the decision of Interior Minister Aryeh Deri to hold democratic elections for the first time in the villages of the Druze in the Golan, claiming that this is an act of “Israelization” of the villages.

While the Druze in Israel expect the IDF to intervene on behalf of their brethren in Syria, they themselves apparently reject the idea. In an interview to the Israel website Ynet, the Druze fighter and journalist Ziad Abu Tafesh was quoted sayin “When I saw the videos in which Druze from Israel demonstrate for us and say, ‘We will sacrifice Our lives for Sweda ‘, I had a special feeling that I had never felt before. I was proud of them, but we do not want help from Israel. We Druze in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine are one community, and we have values ​​that everyone agrees on. We are proud of our Druze brothers in Israel, but we will remain on our land no matter what the outcome. It is our duty to support the Syrian soldiers. ”

What are we going to say to the parents of the first IDF soldier to be killed in defending the hostile village of Khadar in the enemy state of Syria? Is it even possible to imagine a situation in which IDF soldiers and reserve soldiers enter Syria to defend Assad’s supporters?

On Friday, pictures were released of the leader of the Druze community in Israel, Sheikh Muwafaq Tarif, being briefed and updated by IDF officers about what is happening in Khader. The heart goes out to those who are afraid for the lives of their brethren across the border. But, and this is a very significant reservation, the Druze in Syria are not the Druze of the State of Israel. They are soldiers in the army of mass murderer Assad, they work with Hezbollah and they are enemies of the State of Israel. This is not a matter of defending the home front or of reinforcing forces at the borders, but of blatant intervention in the war in Syria and support for the Assad soldiers.

We must not be confused, nor should the Israeli Druze be confused with their loyalty. The Druze in Israel are our brothers, the Druze in Syria are not.

(Translated from Hebrew)


Lital Shemesh is an Israeli Journalist and Commentator

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