Last updated: 16 February, 2013

Israeli army says it treated wounded Syrians

The Israeli army on Saturday evacuated seven Syrians wounded in clashes on the Golan Heights and took them to a hospital inside the Jewish state, where they were being treated for their injuries.

A spokeswoman for the Ziv hospital in Safed told AFP the army had on Saturday afternoon brought in seven wounded people, all of whom have been operated on.

“One is seriously wounded, even critically wounded; the other six are in moderate condition,” she said, adding that they were all still in hospital.

A military spokeswoman earlier told AFP that Israeli “soldiers provided medical care to five injured Syrians adjacent to the security fence” on the Golan Heights and transferred them to a hospital for further medical treatment.”

The army later corrected the number of wounded Syrians to seven.

Neither the army nor the hospital would provide details on the nature of their wounds or any political affiliations.

An unnamed military official was cited on public radio as saying that Israel had a policy of providing humanitarian aid to refugees, while keeping the border sealed tight against hostile elements.

The official also told public radio Israel had prepared designated zones near the border to receive Syrian refugees, under the auspices of the United Nations.

Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon told Channel 2 television that Saturday’s intervention was “an isolated incident on humanitarian grounds of wounded people who reached the border.”

He stressed that this did not reflect a change in Israel’s stance which does not wish to be involved in the Syrian conflict, nor does it welcome a possible deluge of refugees from the war-torn land.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday that rebels overran a military police checkpoint at the Golan Heights town of Khan Arnabeh just beyond the outer ceasefire line along the demilitarised zone bordering Israel.

Regime forces responded by shelling Khan Arnabeh and the nearby village of Jubata al-Khashab, inside the ceasefire zone.

The Golan has been tense since the outbreak nearly two years ago of anti-regime protests in Syria that quickly turned into a bloody insurgency, at times spilling over with mortar and gunfire into the Israeli-held zone.

Last November, Israel responded with artillery after gunfire from Syria hit an army vehicle but caused no injuries, in the first instance of Israeli fire directed at the Syrian military in the Golan since their 1973 war.

Israel seized the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed it in 1981, in a move never recognised by the international community.

Israel is currently upgrading the old security fence along its armistice line with Syria, with work expected to be completed by the end of the year.