Israeli officials quoted in the nation’s popular online site Walla News reported they are engaged in talks with the International Red Cross and “various countries” about a plan to seize part of the Syrian border and establish a “humanitarian buffer zone” for the nation’s Druze minority.
The Druze, a religious minority which makes up about 3% of Syria’s population, has come under attack in Idlib Province by the nation’s al-Qaeda faction, Jabhat al-Nusra, which accuses them of being supporters of the Assad government.
Most of the nation’s Druze population lives in Jabal al-Druze, in the Suwayda Province along the Jordan border. This is far from Nusra’s primary holdings in the northwest, though smaller Druze communities exist nationwide. The Druze are also a small minority inside Israel, and have been lobbying the Israeli government to intervene on their behalf.
It is unclear where this “humanitarian buffer zone” will be located. Turkey has been urging the creation of a zone along the northern border just as a place to send all the refugees who have fled to their country, but with the Israeli plan so Druze-centric, it wouldn’t make much sense to put it on the opposite side of the country from the bulk of the Druze population.
An Israeli plan to seize a buffer zone will also inevitably be controversial, as Israel seized a similar “buffer zone” from Syria in 1967, only to annex it into Israel as the Golan Heights in 1981. If Israel is involved, any region carved out of Syria on any pretense is liable to remain out of Syria in the wake of the civil war.