An estimated 100-200 Syrians approached to within 200 yards of the Israeli border, waving white flags earlier today, before the IDF ordered them to return to Syria.
The scene was captured on video by Reuters. In the footage, an IDF soldier was heard yelling to the Syrians in Arabic, “You are on the border of the State of Israel. Go back, we don’t want to hurt you.”
The Syrian people has been ravaged by a civil war that has been raging since 2011, and which has killed an estimated 500,000 civilians. Russia maintains a significant military presence in Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad’s regime forces.
The Russian-backed Syrian army is currently pushing an offensive against rebel forces in the Daraa region of southwestern Syria. The United Nations reported that approximately 120,000 Syrians have fled the region but several thousand are in refugee camps close to the border with Israel. Syria possesses an unwelcome record, being the location of the world’s largest population of internally displaced refugees. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre claims that number is approximately 6.8 million people, with an additional 5.5 million who have managed to flee the war-torn country to both neighboring countries such as Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon and further afield to Egypt and Europe.
Israel has provided substantial humanitarian aid to the refugees and transported injured for treatment in Israeli hospitals. But the IDF stated that it will protect Israel’s security interests by securing the borders and will not allow Syrian refugees into Israel.
The Israeli government has insisted on Syria adhering to the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement which calls for a demilitarized buffer zone along the border. This zone, intended to prevent any sudden breakouts of hostilities, has become a safe haven for Syrian refugees.