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Neighbor to Neighbor

September 17, 2018

by: Abigail Gilbert, BFP Staff Writer

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A Syrian refugee recovering in an Israeli clinic.

Golan Residents Pull Together to Help Syrian Refugees

The Syrian Civil War may be drawing to a close, but for years now fierce fighting and chemical weapons have left a scar on the Middle East, driving hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees to the Israeli and Jordanian borders.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have been hard at work helping refugees along the border. The desire to heal what is being torn apart in Syria comes from the hearts and minds of the Israeli people. In July, when fighting in the southwestern Syrian city of Daraa sent thousands of refugees to the Israeli border, they were met with hundreds of aid packages collected by Israeli residents of the Golan Heights.

Under Operation Good Neighbor, the IDF delivered the packages to the Syrian refugees. The Golan Regional Council organized the collection, gathering food, medical supplies and gift packages for children. Israeli children wrote notes of encouragement to the refugees, tucking them in amongst the aid.

“We, the residents of the Golan, look right over the fence and see the people fleeing from the killing fields together with their children, and clinging to the fence with Israel,” said Eli Malka, the head of the Golan Regional Council, in a July Tower article. “We feel the moral obligation, in accordance with our values, to send humanitarian aid and as much as is possible to build a relationship of humanity with those who have always been our neighbors on the other side of the fence.”

Many of the refugees have only been taught hate for Israel. While the Jewish state has been clear from the start that it will not get involved in the civil war, it has continued to provide crucial humanitarian aid in the face of overwhelming violence on its doorstep. The IDF provides medical aid along the border, sometimes even taking wounded or ill refugees across the border to recover in Israeli hospitals. They send food—sometimes multiple tons in a week—across the border to those fleeing the violence in Syria’s larger cities. They’ve also sent around NIS 275 million [US $75.4 million] worth of equipment into Syria to help with foreign aid.

Building trust and changing the anti-Israel conversation so engrained in a country will take time, but the IDF hopes that one day the children who were cared for on Israeli soil will see their scars and remember not all neighbors in the Middle East seek their destruction.

Photo Credit: IDf/www.idf.il

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