Diplomacy & defense

A military ambulance brings Syrian patients to a hospital in the Israeli beachside town of Nahariya.
i24news has learned that some members of al-Nusra and IS are hospitalized in Israel; Israeli Druze protest

Members of Israel's Druze minority are protesting Monday against the hospitalization in Israel of wounded Syrian fighters from the al-Qaida linked al-Nusra Front.

A statement issued by a group of Druze activists involved in humanitarian aid to their brethren in Syria accuses the Israeli government of supporting radical Sunni factions fighting against the Syrian government – by enabling them to get medical care. The small Druze community in Israel, like the Druze in neighboring Syria and Lebanon, by and large support the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, favoring him over the Islamist rebels seeking to topple him.

"As we warned in the past, today it has become a fact that Israel supports all factions fighting the Syrian regime, and supplies them with weapons, and takes in the wounded of all faction, including Jabhat al-Nusra and Daesh," according to the statement issued by the group. "We call on members of the Druze sect to act severely toward Israel's policy."

Asked whether Israel does, in fact, hospitalize members of al-Nusra and Daesh (the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State organization), the military spokesman's office said: "In the past two years the Israel Defense Forces have been engaged in humanitarian, life-saving aid to wounded Syrians, irrespective of their identity."

According to Israel's health ministry, so far some 1,000 Syrians have been treated in four Israeli hospitals. Many of the wounded are civilians, and some are members of the secular Free Syrian Army rebel group. Doctors say most arrive in serious condition, some even unconscious, dehydrated and with infected wounds. Some lose a lot of blood before reaching medical care in Israel.

According to sources at the Ziv Hospital in the town of Safed, wounded members of the more militant rebel factions are hospitalized in isolation and are not allowed visitors. Some are handcuffed to their beds.

The sources told i24news that the enmity between the various factions is felt in the hospital too: the wounded do not talk to each other even though they sometimes lie side by side.

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