Turkey’s counter-terrorism operation in northeastern Syria — Operation Peace Spring — to clear the area of terrorists and to ensure the safe return of millions of refugees, has evoked strong reactions in Israel.
Israeli newspaper The Times of Israel reported that a YPG terrorist commander spoke to an Israeli radio station last Thursday, asking help from the Jewish state.
YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the terrorist PKK organization that is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union. The group is responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants, in its more than 30-year terror campaign.
The Army Radio, which broadcast the message, did not give his full name but mentioned him as “Alef”. The commander said if Tel Aviv does not intervene, the entire Middle East will be “adversely affected”.
Israeli officials and commentators have been outraged by the U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria. They believed the decision does not serve the long-term Israeli goals in the region. Israeli columnists have described the act as “stabbing Israel in the back”.
Quoting an Israeli official, Israeli media claimed that a YPG/PKK terrorist commander called on Tel Aviv on Monday and sought help against the Turkish operation. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, expressed confidence that the Jewish people would not “neglect the plight of Kurds” in northern Syria.
Turkish Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin, however, has already made it clear that Turkey’s actions were not against Kurds, but aimed at clearing the northeastern part of Syria of the terrorist groups.
“The Europeans should be grateful to us that Turkey’s anti-terror operations, and its military deployment for ceasefire in Idlib, would strengthen security and stability in northern Syria, and also facilitate efforts for a political solution to the Syrian conflict,“ he said.
On Oct. 10, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had denounced Turkey’s operation in northeastern Syria and said Israel was prepared to offer humanitarian aid to the Kurds in Syria.
Israeli’s clean chit to terror groups
Former Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has openly supported an idea of carving out an independent territory on the borders of Turkey, which will be friendly towards Israel.
In September 2017, Israel’s former deputy army chief Maj. Gen Yair Golan at a conference in Washington had expressed support for the PKK terrorist group.
“From my personal point of view the PKK is not a terrorist organization, that’s how I see it,” Golan said. “When you look at Iran in the east, when you look at the instability in the region, a stable and unified Kurdish entity in the middle of this swamp, is not a bad idea,” he added.
Sahar Vardi, an Israeli anti-militarist activist, said: “This call for independence is extremely ironic coming from Israel, which denies the right of self-determination to millions of Palestinians that it controls under occupation.”
He said the statements of Israeli leaders are not motivated by morality but only self-interest.
“As long as Israel continues to occupy millions of Palestinians, it cannot fight for the liberation of other nations and claim that it’s driven by the desire to do the right thing,” he added.
Tracing PKK operations in Syria, the U.S.-based Foreign Policy Magazine mentions that they had a presence in the country until 1998, when the Syrian government banned the group.
Five years later, PYD was formed, with the same membership as a Syrian affiliate of PKK. It soon formed its terror wing YPG. Turkey has always highlighted the cooperation between the two.
In 2016, in a testimony before the U.S. Congress, then U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter also asserted there are “substantial ties” between the PYD and PKK. Independent reporting has also described overlaps in membership.
Mehmet Solmaz, a Turkish-British journalist, wonders that while the world has rightly condemned Daesh for recruitment of child soldiers, it has remained less concerned when children are tasked to fight for the YPG/PKK or for its other linked groups.
“They think they are doing the Kurdish cause a favor by burying news of the abuse that Kurdish children are undergoing at the hands of PKK militant leaders,” he wrote in a newspaper.
Reporting from Erbil in northern Iraq, Israeli newspaper Haaretz mentioned that the YPG/PKK terrorists were not allowing civilians to save themselves from the conflict in the region.
“Kurdish refugees confirm to Haaretz that they have been turned away at checkpoints by their own security forces, the YPG, in an apparent violation of international humanitarian law [which seeks to limit the effects of armed conflict],” the newspaper said.
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