“It’s strange for us that Israel is more humanitarian than our Arab brothers,” said a Syrian refugee camping out on Israel’s border. 

By: United with Israel Staff

Tens of thousands of Syrians have been forced to leave their homes and flee Bashar al-Assad’s advancing army, which has waged a brutal campaign to retake the south of the country, adjacent to Israel’s northern border.

Thousands of Syrian civilians fleeing the hostilities are living under poor conditions in refugee camps near the Israeli border, often lacking access to water, electricity, food, and other basic necessities.

Seeing their plight, the IDF has stepped up Operation Good Neighbor, providing humanitarian aid to Syrians, who until recently had regarded the Jewish state as the enemy.

As part of Operation Good Neighbor, the IDF has provided over 1,500 tons of food, 950,000 liters of fuel, 8,000 diaper packages, 545 tons of baby food, 25,000 boxes of medicine and medical equipment, 775 medical equipment units, 250 tons of clothing, 14,000 hygienic products, and 300 tents to Syrians since June 2016.

Additionally, over 1,300 Syrian children suffering from various illnesses and ailments have received treatment in Israel’s specialty clinics.

The Mazor Ladach field clinic, established by the IDF and international aid organizations in the southern Golan Heights, has provided medical treatment to approximately 6,000 Syrian civilians suffering from various conditions since its opening in August 2017.

Diaa, a 24-year-old Syrian refugee, concedes his life was saved by Israel. He was severely wounded in a shelling in Deraa, and says he would have died had he not been hospitalized in Israel, a country he had believed was the sworn enemy of his home nation.

He sought help in Jordan but was denied entry into the Arab country. “For me it was the end of the world. I lost hope, the field hospital could do nothing for me, they had no capability to do surgery,” he told the UK’s The Independent.

Diaa ultimately found help in Israel, where he has undergone two operations to his eye, and a reconstruction procedure to his face, paid for by Israeli tax dollars

“One guy offered to help send me to Israel, thank god they did treat me,” Diaa said.

Mohammed, 21, who also fled Deraa and was being treated in the same Israeli hospital, says he too was refused access to Jordan.

“The only place we had was the Jordanian border to run to, and they closed it on our faces.”

The Israeli facility in which the two are hospitalized is currently treating 43 Syrians, some for as long as six months. It has provided care to a steady stream of Syrian refugees over the past five years.

‘Allying With What We Consider to Be the Devil’

In the meantime, Syrian refugees camped on Israel’s border have changed their attitude toward the Jewish state.

“Escaping the killing machine of Russia and the militia forces has made us think of allying with what we consider to be the devil,” Ammar, 27, a father-of-two who is camped on the border told The Independent.

“It’s strange for us that Israel is more humanitarian than our Arab brothers. I once even heard people saying they hope that Israel would include this area in the Golan,” he adds.

“It’s prohibited to go into Israel. But whenever it’s allowed we would definitely go in,” Huda, 42, said.

Israeli hospital officials treating the Syrians acknowledge the strange position they are in.

“We are giving care to people who consider us to be their enemy. There were ones who didn’t stay here for the recommended treatment, because they didn’t want to be here any longer,” says Sharon Mann, the hospital’s liaison officer for international affairs.

“But in Syria they are talking quietly about us.”

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein remarked on Israel’s efforts to aid Syrian refugees fleeing Assad’s advance from the north earlier this month, saying that “many Syrian civilians who are fleeing Assad’s terror are gathering at Israel’s northern border. Paradoxically, this is the safest place for them because we provide them with humanitarian aid.”

“Around the world people are reacting to this with surprise and amazement, but for us, the Jewish people, it is obvious,” he emphasized.