Israel offers humanitarian aid to Syria

Liberman says "We are human beings first, before we are politicians, leaders, commentators and journalists."

March 4, 2012 22:05
2 minute read.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman [file]

Foreign Minsiter Avigdor Lieberman 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Uriel Sinai)

Israel on Sunday offered humanitarian aid to Syria through the International Committee of the Red Cross.

“The Jewish state cannot sit by and do nothing while these atrocities are taking place in a neighboring state and people are losing their entire world,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said.

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“Even though Israel cannot intervene in events occurring in a country with which it does not have diplomatic relations, it is nevertheless our moral duty to extend humanitarian aid and inspire the world to put an end to the slaughter,” he said.

Liberman instructed Evyatar Manor, his ministry’s deputy director-general for international organizations and the UN, to contact the Red Cross.

Red Cross spokesman Ran Goldstein said the request was forwarded to Damascus and Geneva. The Red Cross would respond once it had assessed the need on the ground, he said.

On Sunday the Red Cross, working with the Syrian Red Crescent, was able to operate within Homs – but Syrian ground forces barred it from entering a neighborhood where the heavy fighting is going on Baba-Amr, Goldstein said.

“The main problem is access,” Goldstein said. “We cannot get into Baba-Amr and other places in Syria to distribute aid.”

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Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel understood its offer was not simple and that logistics would be challenging, given the enmity between the two countries.

“The situation is very sensitive,” he said. “But this is a humanitarian cause and not a political cause.”

In an Army Radio interview earlier in the day, Liberman said Israel must intervene to end the Syrian massacres.

“We are human beings first, before we are politicians, leaders, commentators and journalists,” he said.

Lieberman added that it was “unbelievable that the international community with all its institutions and power cannot stop this bloodshed.”

“The pictures are more shocking than Hollywood horror movies,” he said.

It showed how little Israel could rely on the international community, he said.

“When it says we are responsible for your security, you can trust us, what are the value of those words?” he asked.

On Friday, UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon told the UN General Assembly in New York that well over 7,500 Syrians, including women and children, had been killed in the past year.

“On several occasions, the daily death toll has exceeded 100,” he said.

He added that 25,000 refugees were registered in neighboring countries with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and between 100,000 and 200,000 people had been displaced within Syria.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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