Israel treats record number of Syrians over weekend

15 wounded civilians join the more than 100 who have received care in northern hospitals since February

Syrian man who was wounded in the civil war, speaking from his hospital bed at Poriya Hospital, near Tiberias, Israel (screen capture: Channel 10 news)
Syrian man who was wounded in the civil war, speaking from his hospital bed at Poriya Hospital, near Tiberias, Israel (screen capture: Channel 10 news)

Israel on Friday and Saturday allowed 15 Syrians into the country for medical treatment after they were seriously wounded in the civil war to Israel’s north. The number marks a new record for injured Syrians allowed into Israel.

Since February, well over 100 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.

Since February, the majority of Syrians brought into Israel were treated either at the Ziv Medical Center in Safed or the Western Galilee Medical center in Nahariya. Some, including three of the 15 brought this past weekend, have also been brought to Poriya Hospital near Tiberias.

One of the patients treated at Poriya was quoted by Channel 10 as saying he had been injured in the village of Raqqa when challenging the security forces that had established roadblocks closing the villagers inside.

Although Israel and Syria are officially in a state of war, the patient at Poriya said that opposition fighters all know about the medical care available to them in Israel.

Dr. Yaakov Ferbstein, the director of Poriya, said on Sunday evening that the Syrian patients under his care receive the exact same treatment as everyone else.

“This hospital makes no distinction about who the wounded are or where they come from. We give the best care possible to all injured patients,” he told Channel 10.

“I haven’t seen anything bad from Israel,” one of the wounded at Poriya said. “[Syrian President Bashar] Assad is the one causing the distance between Syria and Israel. Most Arab citizens in Israel are originally from Syria, but they now live on the Golan or in Palestine. If it were not for the border, we would be able to visit each other.”

Channel 10 also spoke with two Israeli Arab men who came to the hospital to see if the wounded Syrians may be family members. One of the two asked the soldier guarding the door for the names of the wounded.

However, there is a concern that if the identity of Syrians treated in Israel were to become known, it could endanger them or their families in Syria. As a result, the soldier was unable to provide any information.

The man making the query, identified only as “Suad” from a village in Israel’s north, told Channel 10 that “we have to help each other.” He further requested from the “interior minister to help us meet our relatives, or our friends.”

Lazar Berman contributed to this report.

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