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Official discloses Israel aiding Syrian Kurds ‘through range of channels’

Israel’s Knesset holds special meeting on Syria situation, identifies with ‘distress of the Kurds’.

On October 10, incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered humanitarian aid to the “gallant Kurdish people,” which had been accepted by the Kurds, Hotovely told Knesset (parliament) members in a special discussion about ways to possibly help the stateless people to Israel’s north.

All speakers at the Knesset expressed their support for the Kurdish people, as well as the importance of Israel’s assistance to a nation that fought against the Islamic State and others, Hebrew media reported.

Ankara launched its assault targeting the Kurdish YPG militia after the abrupt withdrawal of 1,000 U.S. troops from northern Syria in early October, a move Kurds deemed a betrayal by Washington, their partner in fighting Islamic State.

In a rare public dissent with U.S. President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered humanitarian aid to the “gallant Kurdish people” on Oct. 10, saying they faced possible “ethnic cleansing” by Turkey and its Syrian allies.

Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, told parliament on Wednesday that the offer had been taken up.

“Israel has received many requests for assistance, mainly in the diplomatic and humanitarian realm,” she said. “We identify with the deep distress of the Kurds, and we are assisting them through a range of channels.”

Syrian Kurdish officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Israel has maintained discreet military, intelligence and business ties with the Kurds since the 1960s, regarding the minority ethnic group — whose indigenous population is split between Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran – as a buffer against shared adversaries.

Chief among those today are Iranian-sponsored forces deploying close to Israel’s borders, including within Syria.

“Israel indeed has a salient interest in preserving the strength of the Kurds and the additional minorities in the north Syria area as moderate and pro-Western elements,” Hotovely said.

The exact form of aid was not disclosed by the deputy minister, but she did elaborate, according to Reuters, that Israel is in “dialogue with the Americans… we state our truth regarding the Kurds… and we are proud of our taking a stand alongside the Kurdish people.”

“The possible collapse of the Kurdish hold in north Syria is a negative and dangerous scenario as far as Israel is concerned. It is absolutely clear that such an event would bring about a bolstering of negative elements in the area, headed by Iran.”


Header image: Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s deputy foreign minister