How Syrian Rebels and Their Families Find Themselves in Israeli Hospitals

June 22, 2017 | Terry Glavin
About the author:

Since 2013, over 3,000 Syrians have been brought to Israeli hospitals to receive medical treatment. In most cases, they are taken to the border fence separating the two countries and then transported by Israeli military personnel. Coordinating the effort is Salman Zarka, a Druze physician and IDF veteran who credits medical ethics, Jewish and Druze religious values, and the memory of the Holocaust for the Jewish state’s decision to engage in this humanitarian endeavor. Terry Glavin explains how it works:

Israel’s border with Syria runs the length of the Golan Heights to a total of 76 kilometers, but it’s only those portions of the Israeli-Syrian frontier controlled by the Free Syrian Army and competing Islamist groups that wounded and sick Syrians are brought to IDF posts along the border fence.

What this means is that it is quite possible that jihadists with a fanatical hatred of Jews and of Israel are being treated at the Ziv Medical Center in Safed and the Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya, as well as other Israeli medical facilities. The policy is simple: don’t ask. Everyone is to be treated according to Israeli medical standards and practices. . . .

The flipside is that when the Syrians are discharged from hospital and brought back to the Syrian border—and they all want to go back, to be with their families or to take up the fight again—great care is taken to conceal the Israeli origin of everything in the “care packages” they’re given. No Hebrew lettering on medications. No evidence of Israeli origin on anything. Collaboration with “the Zionist entity” invites a jihadist death sentence, and much the same from the Assad regime.

The Syrians taken in by Israel are often suffering from the most atrocious kinds of war wounds—severed limbs, bomb-blasted faces, collapsed internal organs—and they’re not all fighters. Many are children, and many are suffering from ailments not directly related to guns or bombs. The Syrian American Medical Society counted 252 attacks on Syrian health centers last year, almost all of them carried out by Assad’s forces and Russian fighters. . . .

Read more on Maclean's:

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register Already a subscriber? Sign in now