Dozens of Israeli Druze citizens cross border into Syria, IDF returns them


After Friday's auto bomb there, Syrian state television broadcast footage it said was of residents of the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights attempting to cross the border to assist people in Hader.

Hader is populated by members of the Druze, a minority religious sect present in Syria, Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Lebanon.

Hader has been aligned with the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad (the Druze are typically loyal to whichever party is in power), making it a target for all of the various rebel and Islamist groups participating in Syria's civil war.

SANA says Friday's bombing targeted the outskirts of the town of Hadar in the northern countryside of Quneitra, near the Israel-occupied Golan Heights.

In an unusual statement earlier Friday, the IDF said that it "was prepared to assist residents of Khader to prevent occupation" by the rebel groups, "as part of our commitment to the Druze population".

The attack included the auto bomb in Hader, which Syrian state media attributed to the jihadist group formerly known as the Nusra Front.

The Quneitra area of Syria, where Hader village is located, is particularly sensitive to Israel because it is adjacent to the Golan Heights area that it captured from Syria in 1967. That terror act proved to be the opening for a gunbattle between Khader residents and Syrian army troops, and Syrian rebel groups from the Nusra front Jihadist terrorist rebel group in the long-running Syrian civil war.

There are approximately 140,000 Druze in Israel, including 20,000 in the Golan Heights.

Druze residents tried to cross into Syria, but were held back by Israeli soldiers, Israel's military said on Twitter.

But it has bombed Syrian territory on a sporadic basis, sometimes in response to stray Syrian army fire. One Israeli Druze was injured when gunfire crossed the border fence, hitting a protester who had gathered near the border with hundreds of other Druze to show solidarity with residents of Khader.

Later on, the militants also carried out an attack on units of the army and pro-government militants in the area.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated from London that Israel will continue to "guard our borders and to cherish our sympathy toward our Druze brothers".