'Israel conspired in massacre of Syrian Druse,' Lebanese officials say

A massacre by Nusra Front gunmen claimed the lives of 25 Druse villagers in Idlib earlier this week.

Lebanon's Druse leader Walid Jumblatt (photo credit: REUTERS)
Lebanon's Druse leader Walid Jumblatt
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Walid Jumblatt, the prominent Lebanese Druse leader, said on Friday that Israel’s intervention was not needed to help his community in Syria just days after a massacre by Nusra Front gunmen claimed the lives of 25 Druse villagers in Idlib.
The leader of Lebanon's Druse said the incident was an isolated one.
"Until this moment, numbers say that more than 350,000 were killed in Syria by the Syrian regime and there are more than seven million refugees displaced inside Syria as well as three million outside Syria, between Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey,” said Jumblatt, who is also a member of Lebanon’s parliament and the head of the Progressive Socialist Party.
“This was an individual incident and I will deal with it politically through my local and international calls," he said.
Jumblatt, for decades a fierce critic of the Assad regime, went on to accuse Israel and the Syrian government of collaborating to perpetuate the sectarianism and divisions within the war-torn country.
Another Druse official in Lebanon, Sheikh Naim Hasan, condemned the killings. He was quoted by the Lebanese newspaper Daily Star as saying that the continued divisions in Syria would serve to benefit “the Zionist regime.”
Hasan and Jumblatt were responding to Lebanese Druse who have traditionally supported the government of President Bashar Assad. One of them is Democratic Party leader MP Talal Arslan, who said that Israel had conspired with Islamist terrorists to carry out the Idlib killings.
“There is a conspiracy in the Arab media, supported by Israel and the West, to distort the image of Druse in Syria and say that they are weak and fearful,” Arslan said.
“I cannot but link what happened with the Druze in Idlib to the joint Israeli-takfiri plan to undermine Syria,” he said.
Israeli Druse expressed their anxiety last week, saying they are very concerned about the fate of their brethren across the border in Syria.
“We are worried about the Syrian Druse and demand that the world not stand by and do nothing,” said Druse and Circassian Local Councils Forum head Jaber Hamoud.
Hamoud, who served 25 years in the army and is also the head of the municipality of Sajur, a Druse town in the Galilee, said that if the world would arm the Druse, they would be able to defend themselves and help prevent Islamic State from reaching Israel and Jordan.
“The Druse love peace, but they know how to defend themselves. They need the means, not knives and axes,” he added.
President Reuven Rivlin expressed his concern to the United States on Wednesday about the fate of the Druse minority in Syria, saying around 500,000 of them were under threat from Islamist militants in an area near the Israeli border.
Israel's Druse, some of whom have reached the senior echelons of Israel's military and the government, have been calling for help on behalf of their brethren in Syria, both at home and abroad.
"What is going on just now is intimidation and threat to the very existence of half a million Druse on the Mount of Druse which is very close to the Israeli border," President Reuven Rivlin said after a meeting with General Martin Dempsey, the US military's top officer.
Ariel Ben Solomon and Reuters contributed to this report.