One can but wonder, a legitimate question. Why would potential Muslim Syrian refugees even think of seeking asylum in Israel of all countries that surround them?
Saudi Arabia should plan on airlifting those potential Muslim refugees... It would be a major mistake to take any Muslim refugees to Israel. But, how could the current anti-Israel Israeli government see that...?
Israel, Expecting Syrian Collapse, Braces for Refugees
By ISABEL KERSHNER Published: January 10, 2012
JERUSALEM — Israel’s military chief said on Tuesday that Jerusalem was preparing for a potential influx of refugees into the Golan Heights from Syria with the demise of the government of President Bashar al-Assad, which he said was inevitable.
Addressing a closed meeting of the Israeli Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the chief, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, said that Israel was preparing to absorb the refugees in a buffer zone between Syria and the Golan, a strategic area controlled by Israel. The plans included defensive measures and humanitarian assistance for those in flight, including thousands from the ruling Alawite sect, the small minority to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs.
“I am not sure all the Alawites will run toward Israel,” General Gantz was quoted as saying, but he said he could not rule out the possibility that some would. He added that Mr. Assad could not continue to rule Syria, but he did not specify how much longer he thought the Assad government would survive.
Israel has tried to keep a low profile and not take sides in the struggle in Syria, a country that is hostile to Israel, but officials here have been increasingly open in their assessment that the Assad government is in dire straits.
The defense minister, Ehud Barak, told the same parliamentary committee on Jan. 2 that the Assad family’s prospects were worsening. “Though it is difficult to put an exact date on when the government will fall, the trend is clear and every day that passes brings the government closer to its end,” Mr. Barak said, according to a statement from his office. He added: “The cracks in the Syrian leadership are deepening, the economic situation is deteriorating and the military is having a hard time dealing with the opposition and the army deserters.”
Despite the uncertainty about who will take over in Syria in the event of a government collapse, and about the ascendancy of Islamic parties in other countries in the region, many Israeli officials and analysts said they would not shed any tears over Mr. Assad’s demise. Instead, Israel sees a potential benefit, saying that the collapse of his government would deal a severe blow to the “radical axis,” including enemies such as Iran, the Lebanese Shiite organization Hezbollah and Palestinian militant groups like Hamas.
Though Syria has mostly maintained quiet along its frontier with Israel for more than 30 years, it has forged an alliance with Iran and provided vital support to Hezbollah.
Israel has held inconclusive negotiations with Syria in the past for a peace treaty based on the return of the Golan Heights, which it conquered in the 1967 war. Israel has extended its law to the area, but for the 20,000 or so Syrians of the Druze religious sect who live there, it remains Syrian territory. Most refused to take Israeli citizenship.
One village, Ghajar, which straddles Israel’s frontier with Lebanon and sits close to the Syrian border, is home to more than 2,000 members of the Alawite sect. The village came under Israeli control along with the Golan Heights. When Israel annexed the area in 1981, the villagers chose to become Israeli citizens.
For refugees fleeing Syria in Israel’s direction, heading for the Golan could be risky. The border area became a scene of deadly confrontation last year when Israeli forces shot pro-Palestinian protesters from Syria as they tried to breach the frontier and enter Israeli-controlled territory twice in three weeks. As many as 26 protesters were killed.
Earlier Tuesday, before General Gantz spoke, the Parliament approved harsh new penalties on illegal migrants, a measure aimed at stopping the flow of African asylum seekers and economic migrants across Israel’s southern border with the Egyptian Sinai.
The amendment, to the existing Law to Prevent Infiltration, makes it possible to detain illegal migrants and their children for up to three years without trial. Anyone caught aiding illegal migrants found to be carrying weapons, or trafficking in humans or drugs, could face prison terms of five to 15 years.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, a human rights organization, decried the new legislation as “draconian and immoral,” saying that “its entire purpose is to deter refugees from entering Israel.”
The Israeli government recently announced additional steps to stem the growing number of Africans who enter the country illegally. About 50,000, mostly from Eritrea and Sudan, have trekked across the Sinai into Israel over the past six years, a source of contention in Israeli society.
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has described the illegal migration in the past as “a threat” that could “flood the foundation of the Zionist state.” Others here say that Israel, a nation of Jewish refugees, should show more compassion.