Following the clampdown by the Syrian authorities on pro-democracy protestors, in which hundreds were killed in recent weeks, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) has called on the international community to take urgent measures to stop further bloodshed. Reacting to reports that Syrians were incited, and even paid, by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad to break through the Israeli border over the weekend to deflect attention from the clampdown, WJC President Ronald S. Lauder stated: “The international community cannot let this criminal regime continue to murder its own people and to destabilize the entire region.”
Lauder added: “It seems that, like his Iranian masters on whose support he depends, Mr. Assad is far more comfortable in wreaking havoc than in bringing stability and encouraging peace and democracy in Syria and in the region."
“President Assad and his regime are brutally oppressing their own people. Strangely, the international reaction is muted – unlike in the case of Libya. We call on the United Nations and other international bodies to firmly condemn the Syrian killings. Further massacres of innocent Syrians are only a matter of time if action is not taken immediately. Time is running out,” WJC Secretary General Designate Dan Diker declared. He called on the United Nations “to isolate a Syrian regime that commits war crimes against its own people and threatens neighboring Israel with a huge arsenal of chemical weapons. The Jewish people support Syrians in their attempt to rid themselves of this tyrant and reestablish their country as a truly free and democratic state,” he said.
Lauder and Diker urged the UN Human Rights Council to immediately probe the killings of innocent civilians, including children, by Syrian government forces. “Syria will be a litmus test for the international community and will show if it really is serious about promoting peace and stability across the entire Middle East,” the WJC leaders declared.
Over a thousand killed in clampdown
Over 1,100 civilians have so far been killed and at least 10,000 arrested in Syria since protests erupted in mid-March. Security forces shot dead at least 34 demonstrators in the city of Hama on Friday, an activist said, in one of the bloodiest incidents in their crackdown. According to a Syrian opposition party, the regime in Damascus also paid poor farmers US$ 1,000 to cross into Israeli territory and provoke the Israeli army. Anyone who would get killed in the stunt was promised up US$ 25,000 for their families, reports said. Over the weekend, hundreds of protesters from Syria had tried to cross into the Israeli territory on the Golan Heights, prompting IDF troops to open fire. Several protestors were killed.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday accused Syria of deliberately attempting to inflame tensions along its border with Israel in order to divert attention from its bloody crackdown on internal protests. "The Syrians allowed these people to instigate provocation, to challenge Israel's sovereignty. This was an attempt to divert international intention from what is happening with Syria, and from the difficult events occurring in the city of Hama," Netanyahu said, adding: "We stand firm in our right to protect our citizens and our border, and will do this with restrain and responsibility. "
Defense Minister Ehud Barak also suggested that Assad might be encouraging unrest on the Israel-Syria frontier in an effort to save his regime. "We have no choice, we have to defend our border and Assad, in my opinion will fall in the end. It may be something that the Syrians are encouraging, it may be that they are pleased with it, they may think it distracts attention," Barak told Israeli public radio.