A migrant carries a child as they wait to board a train after crossing the Macedonian-Greek border
A migrant carries a child as they wait to board a train after crossing the Macedonian-Greek border. (photo credit:REUTERS)


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late Sunday defiantly rejected accusations that Israel was guilty of displaying indifference to the plight of Syrian refugees.

In a special glass-raising ceremony with Likud members to honor the upcoming Rosh Hashanah holiday, the premier said it was Israel that was the first to extend a helping hand to needy Syrians.

“I don’t accept the argument that Israel hasn’t shown empathy for the suffering of people around us,” Netanyahu said.

“Who was the first country to intervene in helping wounded Syrians? Israel,” Netanyahu said. “Who built the field hospital 50 meters from the border on the Golan Heights in order to help those wounded in the war over there? Israel.”

“Who sends rescue crews to help those injured in natural disasters in places like Nepal, the Philippines, and Haiti? Israel,” the premier said.

Netanyahu was responding to calls from some quarters in Israel to permit migrants fleeing the Middle East and Africa to resettle here on humanitarian grounds.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) called upon the government on Saturday to open its doors to Syrian refugees fleeing the ongoing conflict in their country.

“I spoke with Syrian opposition leader Kamal al-Labwani on the topic of Israel taking in refugees from the fighting in Syria, and to push for an urgent international conference to discuss the matter,” Herzog said.

“I call on the Israeli government to carry out a process of absorbing refugees from Syria in addition to humanitarian efforts already being made now,” he said. “Jews cannot be indifferent when hundreds of thousands of refugees are searching for a safe haven.”

Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu went south to launch construction of the next section of a multi-billion shekel security fence along the border with Jordan aimed at preventing infiltration from the east.

Netanyahu, since returning to power in 2009, oversaw the construction of a similar fence from Kerem Shalom to Eilat along the Sinai border, as well as an enhanced security fence on the Golan Heights.

“We are beginning today the construction of a security fence on our eastern border, as a continuation of the security fence that we built on the border with Egypt, and which will join up in the end with the security fence that we built on the Golan Heights,” he said.

Netanyahu said that the world is witnessing today what happens when countries lose control of their borders. He said that the combination of brutal terrorism which is spreading along Israel’s borders, as well as illegal migrant workers and the complete loss of control in the face of the human tragedy in the region makes it imperative for Israel to have control over all of its borders.

“That is what we are doing in practical terms,” he said.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post