Seven Syrians who were wounded in a battle between the Syrian armed forces and rebel forces near Israel’s border with Syria are presently being treated inside Safed’s Ziv Medical Center. One of the Syrians was critically wounded, while four were in moderate condition and two more were lightly wounded. These seven Syrians had approached the Israel border and were detected by a Golani patrol, who noticed that they were wounded and seeking help. Army medics were then immediately sent to them to provide them with assistance, until it was decided that they should receive treatment inside Israel.
This represented the first time that Syrians have been taken to Israel for medical treatment since the Syrian conflict began almost two years ago. According to Israeli Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon, “It was on a humanitarian basis. Refugees approached the border, received medical treatment, and we decided to bring them in for treatment in our territory in light of their condition.” Ya’alon emphasized that Israel would still not permit a large influx of Syrians into Israel, insisting that Israeli policy has not changed regarding this. One army source reported that the only exceptions are special humanitarian cases.
The United Nations has reported that the Syrian death toll is now approaching close to 70,000 people. An additional 600,000 Syrians have become refugees in neighboring states and the United Nations expects that unless the violence subsides, up to 1 million Syrians will have fled Syria. The United Nations also claims that 2 million Syrians are presently internally displaced within Syria and 4 million Syrians rely on humanitarian assistance in order to survive. According to the International Rescue Committee, homes across Syria have been “shelled or burned while in some areas whole neighborhoods have been reduced to rubble.” Syrian refugees report acute shortages in food, electricity, clean water and sanitation services. There are widespread reports of rapes, killings, torture, and people going missing. It is democide, pure and simple.
As one Syrian refugee woman reported, “The war was outside my door. My children looked out the window every day and watched dead bodies thrown in the garbage pile across the street. One day, they saw their uncle shot to death outside our home. I told them not to look out the window anymore. It didn’t help. When they raided the house next door, we could hear the rape of my neighbor, my friend. And then they arrested my brother and tortured him for days. He survived but they scarred his body and destroyed his genitals. We stayed at home, even when we were running out of food. We were too afraid to go out. But then they forced their way in, beat my husband and threatened to arrest him. From under a table, my children watched and screamed. We had to flee.” These were the sort of conditions these seven wounded Syrians escaped from.
Despite Israel’s policy of non-interference, Israeli voluntary aid groups are reportedly working to assist Syrian refugees in Jordan and Turkey, where they provide Syrian refugees with food, medicine, and other types of humanitarian aid. According to former Israeli Knesset member Ayoub Kara, “We have found a way, with voluntary organizations from Israel that are now on the borders of Jordan and Turkey with Syria, to provide humanitarian help to the Syrians who are there. It is important for us that when there are big problems in our neighbor states, we are helping.” However, at the same time, Kara noted that the Israeli government needed to officially stay out of the Syrian conflict, since Israel taking sides is a “danger” to regional stability.
By Rachel Avraham