TEL AVIV: Israel's prime minister has issued a veiled threat to intervene directly in Syria's civil war, after Syrian rebels surrounded a village occupied by the Druze minority close to the border.
Monitors from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the village of Khadr was now surrounded by rebels, who had taken a hilltop immediately to the north.
Druze leaders in Israel and the Golan Heights warned that they might storm the frontier to save their relations, fearing a sectarian massacre.
Benjamin Netanyahu said he had given "instructions to do what is necessary" to help Syria's Druze. Jerusalem also warned rebel groups not to attack and to stay away from Khadr.
Local media reports said the government was considering establishing a buffer zone on the Syrian side of the border for refugees - an unprecedented step after decades in which the frontier has been a "frozen zone".
The crisis over the Druze intensified on Tuesday night, as fighting between Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda's Syria affiliate, Syrian rebels and the Syrian army intensified in southern Syria.
Jabhat al-Nusra has insisted they are not intent on killing Druze, a sect that hardline jihadists consider to be heretical or apostate from true Islam.
However, Druze in the occupied Golan, seized from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War, have watched the collapse of authority over the border with alarm.