Israel to take in 100 Syrian orphans
JERUSALEM - Israel will take in 100 Syrian orphans despite the two countries officially being at war, the interior ministry said Thursday, in the first such move since the uprising began in Syria.
The children will be given temporary documents for four years and later receive full citizenship, a ministry spokesman said, confirming a report on Channel 10 television.
The report said authorities will seek to have the orphans adopted mostly by Arab Israelis, who represent around 17.5 percent of the population of the majority Jewish country.
Family members of the orphans, such as brothers and sisters, could also later be granted refugee status.
Israel will coordinate the arrival of children with international organisations working in Syria, where the civil war has killed more than 310,000 people since it began in 2011.
Gal Lusky, head of the Israel Flying Aid charity, said initial hopes had been for 1,000 orphans but welcomed the move as the result of a wide coalition of political bodies and charities.
"It is important to care for the needy. If some good Christians hadn't done the same for us (Jews) during the Second World War we would be a lot fewer people here."
She said she believed it was the first time Israel had offered asylum to residents of a country with which the Jewish state has no diplomatic relations.
Israel and Syria have been officially at war for decades, though the border between the two countries was largely quiet until the Syrian conflict broke out in 2011.
Since then occasional stray rockets have crossed the border into Israel, sparking reprisals.
The Jewish state has allegedly struck a number of military sites in and around Damascus, several of them targeting Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, an Israeli archfoe and ally of the Syrian regime.