Israel has sent medical assistance to Greece to help deal with the flood of migrants and refugees who have been landing on the Greek Islands, most of them from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.
Israel sent 1.5 tons of medication by air shipment to the Greek Ministry of Health, which will disburse them at the various refugee aid centers, the Israeli Embassy in Athens said.
More than 50,000 refugees and migrants arrived in Greece last month. Greece, which is already suffering from a massive economic recession, has struggled to deal with the human influx.
Teams from the Israeli nongovernmental aid agency IsraAid also have been operating in Greece since September, providing medical and psychological assistance to the refugees.
Last month, Israel announced that it will not take in Syrian refugees fleeing from the raging civil war in their country.
The announcement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in early September came after opposition leader Isaac Herzog called on the government to emulate Europe and take in refugees.
“You’ve forgotten what it is to be Jewish,” Herzog wrote in a Facebook post. “Refugees. Pursued. The prime minister of the Jewish state doesn’t close his heart nor his borders when people are escaping their pursuers, with their babies in their hands.”
The Zionist Union chairman urged Netanyahu to emulate former Likud prime minister Menachem Begin, who in 1977 let 66 Vietnamese boat people escaping persecution settle in Israel.
Netanyahu rejected the possibility of Israel taking in refugees, saying that while the Jewish state was not unsympathetic to the suffering of citizens across its border, it simply did not have the capacity to absorb masses of people.
“Israel is not indifferent to human tragedy; we conscientiously handled a thousand [people] who were wounded in the fighting in Syria and we have helped them rebuild their lives,” Netanyahu said.