Since 2013, Israeli doctors and nurses have treated more than 3,000 Syrians wounded in the bloody six-year civil war that has ravaged the country, killed some 400,000 people and caused a refugee crisis throughout Europe.
And, if some top officials in the Jewish state have their way, that’s just a start.
As the fighting heats up and with the recent sarin gas attack that killed more than 100 civilians in mind, not to mention a U.S. Tomahawk missile strike, Israeli hospitals are preparing for many more casualties.
Some of the patients are saying their treatment has changed their minds about Israel.
Dr. Salman Zarka, director of the Ziv Medical Center in the northern Israeli town of Safed and a former colonel in the medical corps who served on the Syrian border, says he “couldn’t then have imagined setting up a humanitarian program for Syrians.” Now his hospital has delivered 19 Syrian babies and sends prescriptions with patients back to their homeland.
Check out today the itinerary for the 2017 WND Israel tour, coming up this fall, or call the tour hosts at Coral Tours – (866) 267-2511 – for all the details.
“All this makes it more human, more complicated,” Zarka said, adding that he worries about patients he knows on a first name-basis who have returned to Syria.
Israel is now running regular medical rescue missions in response to attacks in Syria. For the more serious injuries, helicopters are dispatched for airlifts.
“We check their breathing, their pulse, their blood pressure – all their vital signs,” Lt. Omri Caspi, a medical officer told the Associated Press. “We take a look at their injuries, we saw the cuts, we checked the chest, the heads, everything, and then we decide which treatment they need.”
In 1967, Israel captured much of the Golan Heights, which had been occupied by Syria, and the mountains provide the Jewish state with a bird’s-eye view of the fighting between Russian, Iranian, Syrian and Hezbollah forces battling ISIS and other anti-Syrian government forces.
Two Syrian patients shared their experiences in Syria and Israel with the Associated Press as soldiers from the Israeli military supervised. The two spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear they or their families would be targeted in Syria if their stay in Israel is made public.
Both young men praised the Israeli people and government while lambasting Bashar Assad and his supporters. They said that as patients have returned to Syria from Israel, word has slowly spread that Israel can help those desperately wounded. The medical care is free of charge. The hospital said it doesn’t discriminate when it comes to admittance, and insists it doesn’t collect personal patient information.
One patient, a 26-year old from Deraa, said he couldn’t find treatment in Syria’s devastated medical sector, so he made his way to Israel, a nation he was raised to hate.
“Back then when there were no incidents in Syria, no revolution, no nothing – the greatest enemy in the world was Israel. It was the first enemy,” he said.
His fellow patient used the pseudonym “Baibars.” A bomb crushed bones in his face, an injury that without medical help festered until he struggled to open his mouth. After 40 days in the Ziv hospital and many surgeries later, the 25-year-old now talks incessantly and even sings about lost love – in addition to praising for Israeli pastries.
“We reached countries that my grandparents did not reach and met good people,” he crooned through a jaw yet to fully healed. From his hospital room, he can see into Syria and counts among his enemies there Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, but not Israel.
“The regime has used chemical weapons since the beginning of the war,” Baibars says, referring to alleged attacks in East Ghouta and Dharaya.
“We were just trying to defend ourselves. The future of Syria has no Bashar Assad,” Baibars says. “Israel is not the enemy. Bashar is the enemy.”
“The Miracle of Israel,” narrated by the late Leonard Nimoy, reveals the story of the only nation in the history of the world that has maintained a national identity without a homeland – and did it for centuries.
Last week Jewish Home Minister Uri Ariel said he would like to see Israel doing more to aid the afflicted people of Syria.
“After we have all seen the inhuman events in Syria, I would like to say that while the state of Israel should not intervene militarily in Syria, it must lead the treatment of Syrian civilians and refugees and lead on the diplomatic avenue against the murderous Syrian regime,” he said. “We do not have the privilege to ignore this difficult reality, we must lead the world, as those who bear the human flag, as the people chosen by the Holy One, blessed be He.”
Meanwhile, Israel Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon strongly condemned the chemical weapons attack in the Idlib province, calling it “evil incarnate.”
He called on the U.N. Security Council to “use all its authority to put an end to the situation in Syria.”