Netanyahu: Trump and Trudeau Asked Israel to Help Take White Helmets Out of Syria

Israel evacuated hundreds of members of the humanitarian organization and their families from Syria in overnight mission

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Members of the group White Helmets remove a victim from the rubble in southern Syria, April 8, 2017.
Members of the group White Helmets remove a victim from the rubble in southern Syria, April 8, 2017.Credit: AFP
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were two of the world leaders that asked Israel to help rescue hundreds of members of the humanitarian organization White Helmets and their families from Syria

Israel evacuated hundreds of members of the humanitarian organization and their families from Syria overnight Saturday, allowing them across the Syrian-Israeli border and then transporting them to Jordan. The operation was confirmed by both the Israeli army and the Jordanian Foreign Ministry.

>> Israel evacuates members of White Helmets rescue organization to Jordan ■ White Helmets rescue shows that Israel Is involved in Syria way beyond humanitarian aid | Analysis

In a video statement, Netanyahu said "President Trump and also Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, as well as others, requested us to help take out from Syria hundreds of White Helmets members. These people who saved lives were now under life-threatening danger," Netanyahu said in a video statement. "I therefore authorized for them to be transferred through Israel to other countries as an important humanitarian measure."

The prime minister also said Israel continues to work against Iran's "military buildup" in Syria.

Israeli operation to evacuate hundreds of Syrian White Helmets activists to JordanCredit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit

The office on EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini released a statement saying that "The EU recognizes the essential efforts of Israel and Jordan, and of all others who contributed to bringing the White Helmets and their families to safety. We reiterate our call for an immediate cessation of hostilities, and full humanitarian access to all Syrian people in need."

Under the tightest secrecy, the White Helmets began to bring its people together, and the activists were told to come to two points along the fence – one at the northern Golan Heights, near Quneitra, and the other at near the Israel-Syria-Jordanian border.

They traveled to those points on foot and by other means. At 11 P.M. Saturday night, the army opened the border crossings, closely guarding the evacuees for fear they would be attacked as they crossed into Israel. The Syrian activists and civilians were put on buses, and Israeli soldiers gave them food on the bus as it traveled to the crossing point with Jordan. No stops were made.

The Jordanians were waiting, as planned, on their side of the border. By 6 A.M. Sunday, all of the activists had been moved to Jordanian buses. Most of the people were children, some of them relatives of the activists and others orphans that had been injured in the battles. 

The White Helmets are sponsored by humanitarian groups mainly in the United States and Canada and works in Syria to provide food, psychological support and other assistance.

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