A Syrian national, one of two allowed into the country on Wednesday to be treated for wounds suffered in the Syrian civil war, died in a Nahariya hospital later in the afternoon from a bullet wound to the back of his head. The two were part of a larger group of wounded nationals who approached the Syrian-Israel border on the Golan Heights.
The two were let into the country for treatment due to the serious nature of their injuries, according to the IDF. The rest of the Syrians who approached the border were treated by an IDF medical team and subsequently returned to Syria.
The two men, in their 30s, were in critical condition when allowed into Israel; they were suffering from “severe head injuries” and other wounds, according to a statement issued by the Ziv Medical Center in Safed, where doctors administered preliminary treatment before transferring them to the Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya.
Hospital director Masad Barhoum, one of a team of doctors that treated the Syrians, said medical staff did their best to save the life of the man who died, but he had suffered a bullet wound through the head that caused massive bleeding.
The other wounded Syrian was still in critical condition, he said.
Hospital spokesman Hagai Einav said the wounded men were believed to be civilians because they were wearing jeans rather than uniforms when brought to the hospital. It was not clear how the Syrians were wounded or how they got to the border.
The IDF stressed that Israel’s treatment of wounded Syrians was on humanitarian grounds and did not reflect a change in official policy refusing entry to Syrian citizens.
Last week, four Syrians were treated by IDF medics along the border, and two were evacuated to Rambam Hospital in Haifa with shrapnel injuries.
In February, for the first time, seven severely wounded Syrians were treated in an Israeli hospital for wounds that they had sustained in clashes with the military. Afterward, the IDF announced plans to build a field hospital near the Israeli-Syrian border in order to treat the expected stream of wounded Syrians seeking medical attention.
Also on Wednesday, Syria’s embattled and increasingly isolated president appealed to the leaders of a five-nation economic forum meeting in South Africa to help end his country’s two-year conflict.
President Bashar Assad said Syria was being subjected to “acts of terrorism backed by Arab, regional and Western nations” — a reference to the Western-backed opposition fighting his regime.
Assad’s appeal came in a letter sent to the BRICS forum of emerging market powers. The World Bank says these countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — are driving global economic growth.
Assad’s letter was published by Syria’s state media.
Syria’s crisis began in March 2011 with protests demanding Assad’s ouster. Following a harsh government crackdown, the uprising steadily grew more violent until it became a full-fledged civil war.