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Despite Risks to Personnel, Israel Has Treated 1,600 Syrians in Last Two Years

Israel has treated 1,600 victims of Syria’s civil war over the last two years, according to a report written by Ron Ben-Yishai for Ynet. Ben-Yishai was on the Israeli-Syrian border in the Golan Heights and reported on the transfer of an injured fighter into Israel for treatment.

The recent escalation in fighting has led to a stream of wounded Syrians arriving almost daily, and “[i]t is likely that most if not all of these nationals are rebels from the rival jihadist Islamic State and al-Nusra Front groups.”

While there are trusted contacts on the Syria side of the border, the IDF still has to take precautions.

At around 8 pm on the day the wounded Syrian was transferred, parties on the Syrian side announced they were approaching the fence. The Israeli ambulance and paramedics readied themselves, while Givati troops received a briefing and then headed out to the fence area. Their role is to make sure that those who sent the wounded citizens to the area had not laden them with explosives, as well as to ensure that the wounded person was not bait in a scheme designed to lure IDF troops into an ambush.

Considering the information Israel has on its new neighbors across the border on the Golan Heights – these extra precautions are necessary. Half an hour later, the commander of the forces stationed near the border gave approval to send out the armored vehicle carrying the paramedics to collect the wounded citizen, who was already waiting on the Israeli side.

Ben-Yishai reported that since the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) first arranged for the transfer of injured Syrians almost two years ago, some 1,600 Syrians have been treated in Israel. Now that UNDOF has fled its postings after frequent attacks, Israel relies on “trusted intermediaries.”

An accompanying video, with English subtitles, shows the transfer of the injured man and provides background to Israel’s humanitarian efforts. The man was severely injured and the Israelis were told that he would die if he was not brought to a hospital.

“In the past, people were very scared but  because they see that more and more people are returning home and praising Israel and the medical treatment given here, they realize that the ‘little devil’ is doing things they really couldn’t imagine,” said Lt. Col. Dr. Itzik Malka, one of the IDF medical personnel. At the end of the video, Ben-Yishai added that he could only “marvel” at the “level-headedness and professionalism” displayed by the soldiers he saw. He also reported that the injured man had begun his recovery.

Over the weekend, CNN also broadcast a report on the treatment of Syrians at Ziv Hospital in Safed.

[Photo: Ynet Screenshot ]