Israel Evacuates Hundreds of Syrian Search and Rescue Volunteers and Families from Syria

Israeli flags. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

The Israelis have provided tons of humanitarian aid to Syrians civilian refugees near their border and transferred wounded Syrians to receive medical attention in Israel. On Sunday, the Israelis announced they had also helped rescue and evacuate hundreds of Syrians—volunteers with the Syria Civil Defense search and rescue group known as The White Helmets and their families. The IDF Spokesperson’s Twitter feed noted that the civilian group “faced an immediate threat to their lives in Syria,” and had “passed through Israel and are now out of harm’s way.”

The White Helmets, according to their website, are a civilian volunteer organization that specifically declares their impartiality in that country’s civil war. According to their Twitter feed, they have saved over 100,000 lives. Despite their neutrality and their positive work, a number of their members were at risk and they needed to escape the country.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that United States President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and others asked Israel to get involved. “These are people who have saved lives and whose lives were in danger. Therefore, I approved their passage through Israel to additional countries, as an important humanitarian gesture,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office, who noted that Israel has military as well as humanitarian concerns in Syria.

“Concurrently, we will not stop taking action in Syria against Iran’s attempts to establish a military presence there,” he said.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Twitter feed made it clear in a series of tweets about the rescue that the IDF is still not taking sides in Syria’s civil war. “Israel continues to maintain a non-intervention policy regarding the Syrian conflict and continues to hold the Syrian regime accountable for all activities in Syrian territory.”

The IDF Spokesperson’s series of tweets noted that the White Helmets and their families had made it from the “war zone in Southern Syria” to a neighboring country and that multiple European countries had requested the Israeli assistance in rescuing the civilian volunteers.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman tweeted about his own involvement in helping to coordinate between the US and Israel. He called the evacuation “Israel’s daring rescue of #WhiteHelmets” while tweeting, “Thank you Israel for the great humanitarian effort!”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, July 22, 2018)

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