For the first time, a Syrian refugee gave birth in an Israeli hospital on Sunday. The woman, a 20-year-old nurse, came across the border alone, and gave birth to a healthy 3.2-kilogram (7 pound) boy.
When the woman felt the baby coming, she was stuck in her home near Quneitra, with no access to a Syrian hospital and no medical care in the town. So she decided to take a huge risk for the sake of her unborn child, and made her way to the border.
“I feared for the baby’s welfare if the birth went through complications at home,” she said. “To my joy, the Israeli army saw I was suffering from terrible pains, and picked me up and transferred me to the hospital.”
When the IDF found her on the border Saturday night, she was already in labor. They brought her to Ziv Medical Center in Safed, where many of the dozens of Syrian medical cases brought into Israel are treated.
Since she came across the border with no family, midwives at the hospital took their place, holding her hands and coaching her through the birth. “At the end of the birth she thanked everyone and hugged everyone with joy,” one of the nurses said.
“The team of Israeli midwives and doctors treated me with sensitivity and respect,” noted the mother.
“She received warm and embracing care from the entire birthing staff,” said Mira Eli, a nurse in the birthing room at Ziv, “just like every mother needs — and even more.”
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After surviving on a rice diet for the past two months, the mother received meat and vegetables at the hospital.
“I really don’t feel like I’m in an enemy country; everyone is helping me and caring for me,” she told Channel 2. (Syria and Israel are formally at war, and have fought three major conflicts — in 1948, 1967 and 1973.)
Since February, over 250 Syrian civilians have been admitted to Israeli hospitals for treatment. Many less serious cases have been treated by Israeli medical teams at an IDF field hospital in the Golan Heights.
Israel has said it offers the care as an act of humanitarian assistance, while endeavoring to stay out of the Syrian war, in which an estimated 100,000 people have been killed since March 2011.