Israelis raise $100k in two days to aid Syrian kids
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Israelis raise $100k in two days to aid Syrian kids

Motivated by memory of the Holocaust, campaign purchases basic goods that will be delivered to neighboring enemy state

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

Advertisement from Israeli grassroots fundraising campaign  “Just Beyond Our Border,” which aims to bring emergency supplies to the Syrians suffering from the civil war in their country. (Credit: courtesy)
Advertisement from Israeli grassroots fundraising campaign “Just Beyond Our Border,” which aims to bring emergency supplies to the Syrians suffering from the civil war in their country. (Credit: courtesy)

An Israeli grassroots campaign aimed at bringing emergency supplies to embattled Syrians has raised some NIS 410,000 ($105,000) in just over two days.

The “Just Beyond the Border” initiative, which opened Thursday night on the online fundraising website Mimoona, has seen thousands of Israelis purchase goods such as blankets, jackets, medicine and food that will be delivered directly to Syrians on the other side of the border.

The aid was particularly geared toward helping Syrian children.

The donated goods will be handed over to Syrians by the Israeli organization Israeli Flying Aid (IFA), which, according to their website, “specializes in bringing life-saving aid to communities affected by natural disasters and human conflict, especially where local regimes prevent entry from formal international humanitarian organizations.”

IFA will work with “the relevant authorities” to bring the goods to Syria, the campaign’s organizers said.

The Israeli call to help Syrians comes amid a brutal battle in the city of Aleppo, which been ravaged by some of the heaviest shelling in the nearly six-year Syrian civil war that has killed more than 310,000 people.

Syrian residents, fleeing violence in the restive Bustan al-Qasr neighbourhood, arrive in Aleppo's Fardos neighborhood on December 13, 2016, after regime troops retook the area from rebel fighters. (AFP/STRINGER)
Syrian residents, fleeing violence in the restive Bustan al-Qasr neighbourhood, arrive in Aleppo’s Fardos neighborhood on December 13, 2016, after regime troops retook the area from rebel fighters. (AFP/STRINGER)

In the last week, Syrian forces, backed by Russia, drove out the last remaining rebel-held enclaves in a brutal onslaught that is said to have killed hundreds.

The campaign to help Syrians was being organized by Israelis from across the country.

Advertisement from Israeli grassroots fundraising campaign  “Just Beyond Our Border,” which aims to bring emergency supplies to the Syrians suffering from the civil war in their country. (Credit: courtesy)
Advertisement from Israeli grassroots fundraising campaign “Just Beyond Our Border,” which aims to bring emergency supplies to the Syrians suffering from the civil war in their country. (Credit: courtesy)

The initial goal of the campaign was to raise NIS 600,000 ($150,000). But the campaign is likely to surpass its initial goal, Yoav Yeivin, one of the lead organizers of the campaign, told The Times of Israel.

Yeivin, who is also a city council member (for the Hitorerut/Wake-Up Jerusalem movement), said they will use the extra money to purchase more goods for Syrian children.

“As an Israeli child I grew up asking where the world was when we needed them most. As a Jew I always knew that I was expected to be there, to help and lend a hand. There is no nation that knows better than us how lethal apathy can be,” Yeivin said, alluding to the Holocaust.

“We launched this project to provide a path for action for any citizen who wanted to help. I believe the people of Israel are caring and compassionate and will donate to help the children and families who are just beyond our border with nowhere to run to. The world is watching, considering its options, but as an Israeli, a Jew, and a neighbor I can’t just stand by,” he added.

Syrian pro-government forces advance in the Jisr al-Haj neighborhood of Aleppo during the ongoing operation to retake remaining rebel-held areas in the city on December 14, 2016. (AFP/George Ourfalian)
Syrian pro-government forces advance in the Jisr al-Haj neighborhood of Aleppo during the ongoing operation to retake remaining rebel-held areas in the city on December 14, 2016. (AFP/George Ourfalian)

Shivi Froman, another leader of the campaign, noted the situation in Syria is complicated for Israelis, but stressed “inaction is not an option.”

“The decision we made was to take children out of the equation because children are children and they deserve assistance irrespective of how complex the reality might be,” she said in a statement.

Yotvat Weil, another leader of the campaign, also alluded to the memory of the Holocaust.

“We couldn’t stand idly by. The memory of helplessness, and of the silence of those around runs deep in us. We knew there were many like us whose hearts were breaking at the situation beyond our border. It doesn’t matter who is right and who is wrong, who is good and who is bad, it doesn’t matter. What matters is to lend a hand and help those who are innocent,” Weil said.

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