Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud) said he is facilitating aid to Syrian refugees and has been in contact with Syrian government officials considering defection.
A number of diplomatic officials in Jerusalem, however, said they were unaware of humanitarian aid from Israel being sent to Syrian refugees.
Earlier this year Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman turned to the International Committee of the Red Cross with an offer of humanitarian aid for the Syrians.
A few days later the ICRC, after relaying the offer to various Syrian groups, returned with a “thanks, but no thanks” reply, an official said.
Kara’s office claimed Tuesday that the deputy minister is working in “hidden ways every day to send humanitarian aid one way or another” into Syria and to refugee camps.
Following Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab’s defection on Monday, Kara said he was not surprised to hear that senior government officials are defecting. He also pointed out that Hijab was involved in efforts to allow Druse residents of the Golan Heights to visit Syria.
Kara revealed that he spoke to several Syrian ministers last week, who thanked him for Israeli efforts to aid refugees.
The deputy minister said he got the impression they are unhappy with Assad’s rule and even considering defection.
“I recently received a list of all of Syria’s ministers and their contact information [from a former government official],” Kara said. “I spoke to several of them, and in light of the tone of the conversations, I am not surprised by recent developments.”
Kara’s office said the Druse deputy minister went through the list of ministers, calling them one by one, in the hope of convincing them “that murder and killing are unacceptable.”
Most of the Syrian ministers hung up when they heard Kara is from Israel, but four were willing to speak to him for a few minutes each, and, according to Kara, agreed that the situation in Syria is intolerable and both sides have gone too far with their violence.
Kara also said he is in contact with members of the Syrian opposition, including officers in the Free Syrian Army.
Kara’s office criticized Ankara for not allowing Israel to transfer medical aid, and said the refugees in Turkey do not feel free to express their opinions.
Kara said he is working to move the refugees out of Turkey. On Tuesday, his office received passport numbers of refugees and forwarded them to Bulgaria, which is considering giving them visas.