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middle east Swiss in Israel urged to register with embassy as Syria conflict escalates

army tank

An Israeli tank patrolling near the Syrian border on April 14, 2018.

(Keystone)

As the Syrian crisis mounts, the situation in neighbouring Israel remains tense. Erich Bloch, local representative of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad, urges his 18,000 compatriots to register with the embassy.

Speaking with swissinfo.ch in the week following an alleged chemical attack near Damascus by the Syrian regime – which was punished by heavy US-led airstrikes beginning on Friday – Bloch said that the situation in Israel remained “unclear”.

“A constant humming can be heard from the sky,” he said. “Helicopters, fighter planes, and drones circle the country. The army in the north is on alert, and troop movements are visible.” This has led to an atmosphere of fear, he added, which is reflected in people’s moods.

Israeli involvement

He made the comments in the context of possible Syrian action close to the Israeli border and the demilitarised Golan Heights region. This could prompt a heightened involvement of the Jewish state in the war, Bloch said, since it has long made it clear that it would not tolerate the presence of Iranian-aligned troops near its border.

“A Syrian offensive on Dar’a could lead Israel to intervene even more resolutely,” he said.

Some 18,000 Swiss abroad live in Israel, mostly in the big cities (Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Ashdod) as well as in kibbutz settlements, especially in the north.

Bloch, who says that the OSA in Israel is well-informed and ready for any emergencies, encourages all his compatriots to register with the Swiss embassy in Tel Aviv, if they are not already.

swissinfo.ch/SRF/dos

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