It was established at the beginning of 2013 in the Golan Heights. IDF (Israel Defence Forces) field hospital for wounded in the civil war Syrians. In its’ surgery, radiology and orthopaedic units soldiers in the IDF Medical Corps do everything to rescue those the most in need.
However this subject was already covered in various newspapers and even Israeli Channel 2. So instead of rewriting somebody else’s articles just have a look yourselves.
And a short movie how it looks like in reality.
From my side I would like to add that since there is not any kind of information regarding closing the hospital we can conclude that it’s still fulfilling its’ rescue mission.
During my research I also stumbled on this very interesting article.
Because the original version is written in Polish here is the translation.
January 7, 2014
Israel: Secret help for Syrians
Boundaries of help
Although both countries are formally at war Israel accepts wounded and ill refugees from Syria. As long as in secret.
Wounded, usually underage, queue in a row to the east from line of demarcation between Syria and Israel. In the afternoon, when sunset lightens them as a massive reflector in the binoculars of Israeli military they are visible at a glance. Both sides are separated by 8 kilometres wide gorge monitored by international peacekeepers forces (UDOF) deployed in here from 40 years. As soon as the operations begins observers from Fiji, India, Nepal, Ireland and Philippines disappear in the shadow: they don’t want to disturb in illegal rescue operation, but also they don’t want to and just cannot sanction it. The commander of the Israeli unit – after making sure of having only wounded and ill Syrians in front of him – gives permission to cross the border. So far neither photo reporter, nor TV crew were able to capture this moment in the camera. No stranger has access to this place, only eyewitnesses in uniforms know the details: those seriously wounded have priority, often unconscious, carried by friends, who hand them over to Israeli paramedics and immediately go back east. Those slightly wounded walk on their own and mostly get to a makeshift first aid point. After being helped and getting the most needed medicines, they have to go back to the place they came from. In the extraordinary cases they spend few days in the specially raised field hospital near Druse village Mas’ada. Those in the worst condition, just after crossing demarcation line get injections from Israelis, without which they wouldn’t survive the transport. After paramedics take them to military ambulances, but they bestir only after sunset – not to upset Israeli settlers on the Golan Heights. They go straight to three appointed by the state hospitals: in Nahariya, in Safed and in Tiberias by the Lake of Gennesaret.
News about Israeli hospitals accepting wounded and ill children from Syria spread firstly in continually bombarded province of Aleppo; after reached almost every single town and village to the east from Golan Heights, annexed by Israel in 1967. Syrians hospitals had stopped accepting patients long time ago, even those most in need of help. There is no medicines or even the most basic injury dressings. There is only more wounded and ill victims. It happens that some sympathetic doctors hint a patient about new possibilities; those more courageous write down in English the medical history and performed treatments, so personnel in Israel doesn’t have to start from the scratch. Unconscious have those information sewn into their clothes. Lots of victims get under the care of dr. Mas’ad Barhoum – director of the Israeli hospital in Nahariya. Before he answers ringing in the middle of the night phone he already knows that other military ambulance is on its’ way from the Syrian border. Journey from line of demarcation between two countries to Nahariya – seaside resort in western Galilee, lasts no more than 90 minutes. This the time to prepare beds in guarded by the army part of the hospital and call on extra duty surgeons, anaesthesiologists and nurses. Often when there is no interpreter dr. Barhoum who is Israeli Arab takes over his duties. Any contact with wounded people is very difficult or even impossible because they are often unconscious; and those conscious are reluctant to talk about themselves. Usually they can’t remember in what kind of circumstances they got injured and who aid them first. They even introduce themselves using false names. They know that sooner or later they will be send back to their homes, where local authorities – maybe officials of the regime, or maybe leaders of one of a rebel groups – will look disapprovingly at people, who were saved by the Zionist enemy. Moreover no one knows if those rescued are soldiers from the government forces or maybe young Islamic rebels. Once a grenade was found in a pocket of badly wounded men. In the hospital no one asks patients about political views, the origin of the wounds or who, when and why inflicted them. “Hospital – says dr. Barhoum – is solely to cure and save peoples’ life”. In the interview with New York Times Barhous recounts: “After waking up from anaesthesia the first question they usually ask is: Where am I? When they hear the answer they are terrified. But they live and presumably they will live.” This secret humanitarian aid is not entirely directed to victims of the civil war. It embraces also ill Syrian children. They are manly transported to the hospital in Safed, Galilean town known till now as a scholars of Kabbalah centre. Toddlers are accompanied by their mothers or aunties, who stays with them until the end of the therapy. Children are treated by military doctors and are using military transport, but not only army contributes to their maintenance. So far it covered the most basic expenses – at least $20m. Hospital in Safed accepted almost 200 kids, most of whom suffered from polio. $2.5m was spent for their treatment, almost entirely obtained from local foundations. Administrators of the hospital know that the source of income is close to exhaustion, and basic cure of those suffering from polio requires therapy lasting from 6 months to 2 years. Israeli budget for 2014 shares costs of this mission – one third of it will cover ministry of defence, two thirds will hand in ministry of health. From financial side the problem is actually the fact, that no one is able to predict how long this one of a kind help will last for and how many patients it will embrace.
What does Israel do it for?
In the meantime in Israel concerns are rising around this secret help for Syrians. World Health Organization confirmed growing threat of polio epidemic in the Middle East. By unprecedented decision Israel decided to inoculate 22m children in Syria and in 5 neighbouring Arab states against this disease. After warning publication 980 thousand children in Israel were also vaccinated. Information about a threat of this incurable illness obviously does not foster treatment of Syrian kids issue in Israeli hospitals. However recently court rejected summons of a group of concerned Israeli parents demanding immediate cessation of those practises.
Helping Syrians divides also minorities living in Israel. Nowadays in Golan Heights lives around 20 thousand Druze. Often they are owners of well prospering farms and orchards and do everything they can not to notice Syrian medical tourism. From the other hand Druze living in Israel recently even published manifesto criticising their compatriots from Golan Heights for idleness in the face of human tragedy. But Palestinians from occupied territories are also carefully neutral. Only Arabic citizens of Israel – and there is almost 1m of them – started fundraising to contribute to Israeli humanitarian action. Subsequent and not easy to solve problem will be returning cured children to Syria. Those, who found themselves in Safed without family escort not always know the names of towns and villages they came from. Even if they know it, often their family houses does not longer exist and their closest relatives spread between refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan or other countries. “Presumably we will have to adopt those kids” – says dr. Amram Hadrani during the phone call. It was suppose to sound like a joke, but chief surgeon in Safed is not laughing. Israeli government didn’t take an official stand on help for Syrians, Israeli newspapers were silent long time about the issue. But fear from influx of wounded and ill from Syria, which three times attacked Israel state since it announced independence and formally remains at war with it, causes increasingly stringent discussions on the Internet forums. Inter alia about efficiency of Israeli health service – influx of foreigners, who overwhelm operation rooms in public hospitals, it’s not a dream of Israeli taxpayers. Especially that the current increases – last summer dozens of injured found help in Israeli hospitals. At the turn of the year it was already hundreds of them. In a few months it can be thousands. On the Christmas Eve UN estimated that there is already 9m people in Syria who lost their homes, few millions has suffered physically due to civil war – help for them can cost even $6.5 m. With this figures Israeli voluntary humanitarian actions are merely a drop in the ocean. USA government alongside with few UN agendas put the pressure on Israel to accept severely wounded Syrians from refugee camps in Jordan cause growing problem has already threaten stability of the country, what can be also really dangerous for Israel. So far only few social organizations and leftist political groups support this initiative. Vast majority of Israelis are against. Even those, who quietly support casual helping operations in Golan Heights.