Critically injured Syrian transferred to Israeli hospital
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Critically injured Syrian transferred to Israeli hospital

In first such evacuation since fatal June attack on ambulance carrying 2 wounded fighters, man in his 20s airlifted for treatment

Still photo from a Vice News video of Israeli soldiers treating wounded Syrian rebels, December 2014. (YouTube: screen capture)
Still photo from a Vice News video of Israeli soldiers treating wounded Syrian rebels, December 2014. (YouTube: screen capture)

A critically wounded Syrian man was transferred to Ziv Medical Center in Safed for treatment late Thursday night, following severe injuries to his chest and stomach in which he is said to have lost a massive amount of blood.

The man, said to be in his twenties, was airlifted to the hospital by an Israel Defense Forces helicopter, in the first such transfer to the medical center since a violent mob attack by Druze villagers on an ambulance carrying two wounded Syrian fighters two months ago.

The ambulance was en route to medical center when a mob of people, apparently thinking the ambulance could be carrying Syrian jihadist rebels, attacked the ambulance, being escorted by an army jeep, near the town of Majdal Shams. The convoy made its way to the nearby town of Neve Ativ, but was also met with resistance there by Druze who followed the ambulance. One of the Syrian casualties was killed and two IDF soldiers were hurt in the incident.

Since the attack, wounded Syrians crossing into Israel have been taken to hospital in the Galilee city of Nahariya, according to Ynet.

The scene where Druze Israeli residents attacked an Israeli ambulance carrying wounded Syrians near Majdal Shams,  June 22, 2015 (Basel Awidat/Flash90)
The scene where Druze Israeli residents attacked an Israeli ambulance carrying wounded Syrians near Majdal Shams, June 22, 2015. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Israel routinely takes in and treats Syrians injured in the civil war, and the IDF has set up a field hospital along the border, though it transports more serious cases to hospitals elsewhere in the country, without prejudice to which side of the civil war the injured was fighting on.

The June attack was triggered by Druze anger over allegations that Israel gives medical treatment to Syrian fighters, including jihadists, a charge the IDF has denied. The Druze say these fighters then go back and may be involved in fighting or killing their brethren on the Syrian side.

The Druze, a mystic sect that broke away from Shiite Islam in the 11th century, are ideologically loyal to the countries in which they reside. Israel’s Druze speak Hebrew and many serve in the IDF.

However, residents of the four Druze villages in the Golan Heights, which was captured by Israel in 1967, remain outwardly loyal to the Syrian regime and have mostly refused to accept Israeli citizenship.

Druze are considered heretical to Sunni Islam, and have been targeted by the radical al-Nusra Front and Islamic State groups.

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