Israel will not allow any Syrian refugees to enter its territory but will continue to provide them with humanitarian aid, Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman said.
More than 120000 people in south-western Syria have been forced to flee since the Syrian government launched an offensive to recover an area bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights from rebels, a monitoring group said.
The Israeli military said an increased number of Syrian civilians had been spotted in refugee camps on the Syrian side of the Golan over the past few days and it had sent aid supplies to four locations “to Syrians fleeing hostilities”.
Lieberman’s remarks on Twitter reaffirmed Israel’s stance and followed Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz saying earlier yesterday the refugees would not be allowed to enter.
“We are closely monitoring events in southern Syria.
“We will guard Israel’s security interests. As always, we will be ready to provide humanitarian aid to civilians, women and children but we will not accept any Syrian refugee to our territory,” Lieberman wrote.
His tweet was published hours after the military said it had transferred the aid to southern Syria.
Footage released by the Israeli military yesterday showed a forklift truck unloading palettes with supplies that it said included 300 tents, 28 tons of food, medical equipment and medication, footwear and clothing.
Israel has refused to accept refugees fleeing the more than seven-year conflict in Syria, a country with which it remains officially in a state of war.
In addition, Israel accuses Iran of stationing military bases and personnel in Syria to use the war-torn country as a launch pad for attacks into Israel.
However, Israel has taken in several thousand Syrians for medical treatment since 2011. Wounded Syrians have been treated at field hospitals set up along the frontier with Syria in the Golan Heights and in Israeli hospitals.