The International Fellowship of Christian and Jews (IFCJ) President and Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein on Sunday declared his intention to provide humanitarian assistance to members of the Druze community hurt by the ongoing conflict in Southern Syria.
Rabbi Eckstein made the announcement at an afternoon meeting at the home of Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Muwaffak Tarif in Julis, Israel.
During the meeting, which was also attended by leaders of the Druze community and council heads, IFCJ announced it will provide monthly assistance to roughly 50 families who recently fled from Syria to Jordan to escape the ongoing violence.
The six months of assistance will cover food and medical care costs and amounts to 500,000 shekels. During the meeting, Rabbi Eckstein promised to provide additional support to the Druze refugees, as needed, and to remain in close contact with Druze leaders in Israel who can keep him updated on the volatile state of the Druze community in Syria.
"From the very beginning, the IFCJ has worked to safeguard the Druze community and to advance their integration into Israel’s society and economy,” said Rabbi Eckstein, who added, “We believe the Druze to be true partners to Israel’s security and wellbeing.”
“To date,” he continued, “IFCJ’s assistance for the Druze community in Israel has included university scholarships for Druze enlistees in IDF and economic assistance for Druze families and elderly who live below the poverty line. However, now there is a crisis; it is time to step up and to support our Druze brethren during their time of need and suffering. We will give them as much help as we can.”
Sheikh Muwaffak Tarif said that it was “heartwarming that a Jewish rabbi identifies himself with the hardships of the Druze community in Syria and offers an immediate humanitarian support. With this support we will help our brothers that fled from Syria to Jordan and are in need of food and medicines".
Syria's Druze minority are traditional allies of President Bashar Al-Assad, though the bloody civil war has tested their allegiance to him.
Now, many Druze are trying to maintain neutrality, nervously eyeing the advance of jihadist groups like Al-Qaeda's Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State (ISIS).
On June 10, at least 20 Syrian Druze were reportedly killed in an unprecedented shoot-out with Al-Nusra Front in northwestern Syria.
Al-Nusra Front later apologized for the incident and promised it would prosecute members involved in it.
The group’s leader had earlier promised his group would protect minorities who "leave their religion and leave Bashar al-Assad."