Syria Blasts Israel's 'Criminal Operation' After Evacuation of White Helmets Activists

Israel facilitated the evacuation of hundreds rescue workers and their families from Syria, transporting them to Jordan

Israeli soldiers in a bus with Syrian White Helmet activists, July 22, 2018
AFP

The Syrian government condemned the Israel's extraction of hundreds of members of the White Helmets humanitarian organization from southern Syria into Jordan on Monday, calling it a "criminal operation" by "Israel and its tools," Syrian state TV reported.

Israel facilitated the evacuation of Syrian rescue workers and their families overnight Saturday, allowing them across the Syrian-Israeli border and then transporting them to Jordan.

>> White Helmets rescue shows that Israel is involved in Syria way beyond humanitarian aid | Analysis

Israeli operation to evacuate hundreds of Syrian White Helmets activists to JordanIDF Spokesperson's Unit

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.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry added: "Israel has always claimed that it is not involved in the Syrian war, but aiding the [evacuation] of hundreds of members of the terrorist White Helmets organization, as well as other senior members of terrorist organizations and with help from the U.S., Britain, Canada, Germany and Jordan - reveals those countries' support for those terror groups." 

According to the ministry, "there aren't enough words to denounce this despicable act and the plots led by Israel and those countries against the Syrian people."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were two of the Western leaders who asked Israel to help get members of White Helmets out of Syria. 

"These people who saved lives were now under mortal threat," Netanyahu said in a statement. "I therefore authorized transferring them through Israel to other countries as an important humanitarian measure."

Under tight 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.