Against the backdrop of Syria's ongoing war between Bashar Assad's
loyalists and rebel forces, academic institutions in Syria
have seen a drop in the number of Druze applicants. Up until last year, some 200 students applied to Syrian universities annually, but this year, Syrian academies said that only 58 Israel-based Druze students, a Syrian source reported.
A resident of the Druze town of Majdal Shams
in the Western Galilee told Ynet that over the past year as a student in a Syrian university she felt her life was in danger. She confessed she was "Not willing to go back as long as the war is going on."
"Life is dangerous there," she added, "and it's hard to focus on your studies. I advise all students to go back home to their families and stop painting a picture that is the complete opposite of what is actually going on in Syria, as if everything is ok and there aren’t any riots."
All 58 students who are still going to Syrian universities are from the Druze towns of Majdal Shams, Buq'ata and Ein Qiniyye. In the past, the families of students were granted passes to visit them in Syria but due to recent developments in the region, family members are no longer allowed to cross from Israel
to Syria, in fear for their safety.
Did two Israeli Arabs join the Syrian rebels? Rebel in Haleb (Photo: Reuters)
The father of a student who decided to stay in Syria told Ynet: "I'm very concerned and I've tried to convince him to come back a few times, but he insists on staying."
"He says that he's not in any danger, but I've heard from other students that the war is taking its toll," the father added.
A Druze cleric advised young women and men against applying to Syrian universities until the war was over: "We must wait until things calm down; nobody wants to put anyone in danger. The times when hundreds of our youth would go so schools in Syria and we would visit them are over. We hope that everything will be over soon."
According to the Interior Ministry's data, 40 students left from Israel to study in Syria this year; 111 registered students remained in Israel; 18 students stayed in Syria since last year, and at the moment 58 Israeli students are in Syria.
Also on Sunday, Ynet learned that two Israeli Arabs in their 20s left Israel to Turkey
and have not been heard from ever since. Their families turned to the Foreign Ministry, asking for help in tracing the two, but some suspect that they have joined the Syrian rebels and are taking part in the fighting against Assad.
According to a source familiar with the details, "One of the men who went missing called his family and said that he and his friend have joined the rebels and are fighting against Assad. They said they had no intention of coming back."
The Foreign Ministry states in response: "The families turned to us and we have contacted the official sources in Turkey to find them, but their whereabouts is still unknown. Our office is in touch with the families to offer assistance. We suspect that the men have crossed over the Syrian border to take part in the war against Assad."
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