Israeli Deputy Minister Admits He Visited Syria

Ayoub Kara was said to have traveled to the war-ravaged country in order to save the last Jewish family in Aleppo.

Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara.
Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara, 2015. Mark Israel Salem

Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara, a member of the Likud faction, admitted on Saturday he visited in Syria since the beginning of the civil war there.

Kara, the deputy regional cooperation minister, was asked about his experience in Syria at a cultural event in Be'er Sheva. He said that the situation is "very hard, a very serious situation, you can't even imagine… It's a whole other world. When you crossover from Israel to Lebanon or Syria, you see the difference."

When asked if he had crossed into Syria sometime in the past year, Kara, who is Druze, refused to divulge details. "I won't get into it… I've been accused of visiting Aleppo in order to save the last Jewish family [there], I never denied or confirmed it."

A view of the front line in Old Aleppo, Syria, January 4, 2015.
Hosam Katan, Reuters

Kara did, however, describe the city, saying that "Aleppo today is abandoned… Today when you enter it, you won't even think that it's Aleppo. It doesn't even remind you of Aleppo." He added that 20,000 Jews once lived in the city, with "harmony between Jews and Druze and all other minorities."

When asked about the danger involved in such a trip, Kara said, "I'm not a man who's afraid, because I'm a believer, and one who believes isn't afraid."

Earlier this month the deputy minister claimed he was involved in the release of Berjas Aweidat, a Druze man from the Golan Heights town of Majdal Shams. Syria released Aweidat, 47, after 13 years in jail.

The reason for his detainment was unclear, but Kara said he was suspected of spying for Israel.