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Israel Warns Nusra Front against Seizing Khodr Town in Golan

Israel Warns Nusra Front against Seizing Khodr Town in Golan

Sunday, 5 November, 2017 - 09:30
An Israeli soldier stands atop a tank near Alonei Habashan on the Golan Heights, close to the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria. (Reuters)

Israel issued a strong warning to al-Nusra Front against attempting to occupy the Druze village of Khodr in the Golan Heights.

The Israeli army announced that it was ready to intervene immediately to protect the village against the extremist organization.

The Palestinian Authority described the stance as a “tactical retreat” under Druze pressure after Tel Aviv had agreed with al-Nusra Front to occupy Khodr.

In a rare statement, an Israeli security official said that Israel “does not interfere in the Syrian war, but it finds itself strongly committed to the Druze sect.”

He warned al-Nusra against coming near the village that lies in the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.

He stressed that Israel does not want to escalate the situation, but it will not allow the Druze to be targeted or for their village to be occupied.

The Israeli statements came shortly after Palestinian, Syrian and Druze accusations that Tel Aviv had supported al-Nusra Front. This prompted Israeli military spokesman Avekhai Adarei to declare that his country does not back any side, including al-Nusra Front, in their battle against Syrian regime forces.

After the mounting accusations, Israel showed exceptional interest in Khodr, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayahu telephoning Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to announce his support for the Druze community.

The Israeli army then released a photograph of leader of the Northern Command Yoel Strick with a number of Druze leaders, including Druze spiritual leader in Israel Sheikh Mowafaq Tarif. The meeting tackled the latest developments near the Khodr village.

Earlier, the local council in the Julis village in al-Khalil held a meeting to address the same issue.

The gatherers issued a statement saying that the Druze community, represented by spiritual and political leaders, condemned the barbaric attack against Khodr.

It demanded the Israeli government to immediately retaliate and prevent bloodshed in the village.

According to Israeli sources, the army pledged to carry out immediate airstrikes if al-Nusra Front came near the village.

The military said that Tel Aviv’s commitment to the Druze community is connected to the community’s loyalty to the Israeli state.

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