Israeli hospital treats Syrian rebel fighters

Sunday, February 17, 2013 |  Israel Today Staff

Israel on Saturday came to the rescue of seven Syrian nationals found wounded along the border fence in the Golan Heights. The men turned out to be Syrian rebel fighters who were injured in clashes with government forces.

One of the men was found in critical condition with shrapnel wounds to his abdomen. He and several of the others underwent surgery at Ziv Hospital in the northern Israel city of Safed overnight.

All seven are listed in stable condition, though the most badly wounded is still in the Intensive Care Ward.

An Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman said that despite the official state of war between Israel and Syria, "these men asked for humanitarian aid, and we provided it."

While it is still unclear how long their treatment will last, once the seven Syrians are well, protocol dictates that they be returned to Syria via a UN-staff border crossing.

But, local Druze leaders in the northern Golan are urging Israel not to send the men back to face what they said would be certain death.

Village leaders and local attorneys from the larger Druze towns in the Golan sent a letter on Sunday to Defense Minister Ehud Barak requesting that they be allowed to "adopt" the seven Syrians.

"I hope the Israeli authorities will act according to the values of the Jewish people in this matter," attorney Fuad Safdi told Israel's Ma'ariv daily newspaper.

Another likely outcome of this episode is that the regime of embattled Syrian dictator Bashar Assad will play even harder on the unsubstantiated angle that the rebellion in his country is a "Zionist plot."

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