Foreign Policy Blogs

Israeli Aid to Syria

Source: Associated Press

The Syrian conflict has displaced in excess of 6.5 million people over the past two years, and tragically ended the lives of more than 100,000 others. As fighting continues, the international community seems numb to reports of chemical attacks, bomb explosions, and other horrific events that unfold almost daily. However, amidst headlines that highlight the hatred underscoring tragedy in the Middle East, there are examples of humanity.

While Israel makes political headlines for tumultuous relationships with its neighbors and its internal strife, the country’s medical community assists many Syrians affected by the ongoing conflict in their country.

Syria and Israel are enemies. During the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel captured the Golan Heights, which was Syrian territory. Israel currently maintains control of the Golan Heights, and it is through this region that wounded Syrians enter Israel for medical treatment.

Source: BBC News

Many find themselves waking up in the Western Galilee Hospital, six miles south of the Lebanese border. The hospital’s director general, Dr. Masad Barhoum, said that most arrive at the hospital unconscious with head injuries. He explained: “They wake up after a few days and hear a strange language and see strange people. If they can talk, the first question is, ‘Where am I?’  I am sure there is an initial shock when they hear they are in Israel”.

Outside Israeli medical facilities there are other Israeli efforts to assist Syrians. Israeli Deputy Minister Kara recently stated that Israeli government resources are at work in Jordan to assist Syrian refugees.  Their focus is to get medicine and medical treatment to injured Syrian children and infants, Kara said, “They [Israeli government representatives] are there as part of the international assistance [to Syria] and not in the framework of the regime or government.”

Non-governmental organizations are also stepping in to assist in the worldwide humanitarian effort to aid Syrians. The Jerusalem Post reported that an Israeli non-government organization (unnamed for security purposes) delivered 70 tons of sanitation items, 670 tons of food, 120 tons of basic home items, and 20 tons of medication to Syrian refugees. Israeli efforts, both government and non-government, showcase the humanity that is often found, even among enemies, where there is need.

Israel is not alone in its government and private humanitarian endeavors. Whether supporting or opposing military intervention in Syria, countries throughout the world are providing financial, tangible, and volunteer-based support. Ireland recently pledged  3 million euros in aid (more than $4million). To date, the United States has provided $815 million. To assist Jordan in coping with the large influx of Syrian refugees, Canada is providing Jordan with $100 million.

While wounded, death, and displacement seem the logical focal point of Syrian attention, Syria’s foreign minister focused on other issues at a recent September 2013 United Nations meeting. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem’s speech before the United Nations concentrated on Israel, the United States, and Syria’s support of the Palestinian people. His address affirmed Syria’s commitment to regain control of the Golan Heights. He said, “The Syrian Arab Republic confirms their mission to restore the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to Syrian rule and formally rejects all measures taken by Israel to change the geopolitical landscape of the Golan Heights.” While issues raised by the foreign minister are of importance to the Syrian government, the country’s political priorities are questionable given its ongoing internal war, mounting casualties, and human suffering.

 

Author

Allison Kushner
Allison Kushner

Allison Kushner received three undergraduate degrees from Boston University and a Master's degree in Middle Eastern Security and Diplomacy Studies from Tel Aviv University. She has spent time living and traveling throughout Europe, the Middle East, and China. A former political speechwriter, Allison has taught college level Political Science and International Relations in the U.S. and China. She continues to be engaged in public speaking activities at home and abroad.

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