The Israel Defense Forces announced on Thursday that it officially closed its specialized program aimed at helping Syrian refugees from the civil war that has been raging in its the neighboring country since 2011. The program titled, “Operation Good Neighbor” saw Israel provide five years of humanitarian assistance to the people of southern Syria.
“The large and long-running humanitarian effort has come to an end with the return of the Syrian regime to southern Syria,” the IDF said in a statement.
At the beginning of 2013, the IDF began allowing injured Syrians who were brought to the border in order to escape the carnage of the war into Israel for medical care. The IDF began treating the injured Syrians in field hospitals and then transporting them for further care to regular hospitals in the northern parts of the country.
In addition to the IDF, a select group of Israeli non-governmental organizations were allowed to transfer humanitarian aid across the border.
The official beginning of the Operation commenced in 2016 and saw a sharp rise in the amount of materials being transported into Syria. In addition, the IDF set up an official day-clinic at the border and allowed ill Syrians suffering from ailments that were not battle related to enter into Israel to receive medical care.
According to an IDF report, close to 5,000 Syrians have been brought to Israeli hospitals for treatment since 2013, among them were some 1,300 children. The day clinic, known as Mazor Ladach – “relief for the suffering”, treated 7,000 people.
In addition, Israel transported 1,700 tons of food; 1.1 million liters of fuel; 26,000 cases of medical equipment and medication; 20 generators; 40 vehicles; 630 tents; 350 tons of clothing; 8,200 packages of diapers; and 49,000 cases of baby food into Syria in order to alleviate the shortages suffered by the population in the southern reaches of the country.
The IDF also received numerous letter from thankful Syrians who received aid. They released these testimonials without revealing the identity of those who wrote the letters for the protection of the individuals.
“I wish you the best and want to thank you greatly for the help and for standing beside us. God-willing, this thing will not be forgotten and we will tell our sons what you did.”
The reason given for the cessation of the program by the IDF at this point is due to Bashir al-Assad’s regime taking over the area.
“The IDF sees in the Syrian regime the responsible party for all that transpires in Syrian territory.” the IDF said in a statement last week.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)