Unprecedented footage has emerged of the Israeli army opening the border gates to Syria for a group of mothers and their children seeking medical assistance in the Jewish state, The Times of Israel reported Sunday.
The IDF allowed an Israeli TV crew to film the event, which was broadcast by Hadashot News, formerly Channel 2, and featured interviews with several of the Syrian mothers, who expressed their deep gratitude for the humanity shown by Israel.
After they reached the other side of the fence, they were transported to an Israeli hospital for medical treatment. One mother told the TV interviewer. “Everyone wants to come here. Adults too; not just the children.”
Speaking to the TV reporter, another Syrian mother said that, in the past, “Israel was thought of as the enemy… Now that you are helping us, most [on the Syrian side of the Golan] are with you. They love Israel. They see the true face… the reality.”
When asked who was the enemy now, she replied: “All of them: Islamic State, Hezbollah, Bashar [Assad]. They’re all the same,” one of the women replied.
The women and children were asked not to be identified by name or have their faces photographed or filmed for fear of retribution back home, if their treatment in Israel were to become known.
Footage in Ziv hospital showed an Israeli medical clown entertaining the children. The report also included clips of the Syrian children drawing paintings some of which featured Israeli flags.
A senior army officer, Sergei Kotyakov, involved in “Operation Good Neighbor”, described how the Syrian patients eventually realized “that nobody is going to harm them here.” He added: “Quite the reverse. We’re here to help and provide assistance…. Then they start to talk, and to describe what they’ve been going through.”
“I wish we could stay here for good,” said one of the mothers. If the border to Israel was open, “I’d be the first to cross,” she asserted. How many Syrians would follow? the reporter asked. “All of Syria would follow me,” she replied. “All the civilians left in Syria would come.”
The IDF reportedly allowed a group of 21 mothers and 23 children to cross the border on Sunday. Several of the children were suffering with shrapnel wounds; one of the children was struggling with asthma. Since the outbreak of the brutal civil war, Israel has treated over 3000 Syrians, of whom almost 1,000 were children with chronic conditions, and has also maintained a field hospital on the border.
Two and a half years ago veteran Israeli journalist Ron Ben-Yishai was allowed to report on the transfer of an injured Syrian into Israel for treatment. He wrote then that he could only “marvel” at the “level-headedness and professionalism” the soldiers displayed in their delicate and possibly risky task.