Israel is providing humanitarian aid to Syrian civilians caught up in fighting between President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and rebels near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, its defense minister said on Tuesday.
Israel has not publicly taken sides in the 2-1/2-year-old conflict in Syria, with which it is still formally at war.
Scores of wounded Syrians have been taken across the Golan to Israeli hospitals. The strategic plateau, captured in the 1967 war, occasionally comes under fire during the fighting.
“We cannot sit by and watch the humanitarian difficulty on the other side - not when it comes to wounded, not when it comes to preparations for winter, not when it comes to other problems like food for babies,” Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told reporters during a tour of the Golan.
“And indeed we are supplying the other side with these basic needs when we see the outcry and the humanitarian distress,” he said. “We have transferred water, and we also transferred food, including baby food.”
Yaalon described the aid recipients as villagers “besieged” by clashes Assad’s troops and rebels east of the Golan.
On Monday, the Israeli army fired into Syria after its troops were shot at on the Golan, hours after a Syrian mortar shell landed near a Druze village there.
There were no casualties on the Israeli side, but Yaalon said a Syrian soldier had been hit by the return fire.