Middle East

Israeli soldiers in an abandoned military outpost overlooking the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria on Tal Hazika near Alonei Habshan in the Golan Heights on November 15, 2012
Some members of al-Nusra and IS have been treated in Israeli hospitals

i24news/Annie AhronheimA report submitted to the United Nations Security Council by UN observers in the Golan Heights over the past 18 months have shown the extent of cooperation between Israel and Syrian opposition fighters. The report detailed regular contact between Israeli defense forces Syrian fighters on the border.

The UNDOF observer forces monitor a 1974 ceasefire between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights. A buffer zone stretching some 70 kilometers from Lebanon in the north to Jordan in the south is overseen by UNDOF forces.

Six countries contribute troops to the 1,200-strong UN force on the Golan: Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal, the Netherlands and the Philippines, but hundreds of UN troops withdrew from the Syrian to the Israeli sector in September after Al-Qaeda-linked rebels kidnapped dozens of peacekeepers.

Reports by the UNDOF is regularly submitted to the UNSC but starting in March 2013, the reports started to show that Israel had begun to admit wounded Syrians into the country for medical treatment in hospitals in the northern cities of Safed and Nahariya.

According to Israel's health ministry, so far some 1,000 Syrians have been treated in four Israeli hospitals. Many of the wounded are civilians, and some are members of the secular Free Syrian Army rebel group. Doctors say most arrive in serious condition, some even unconscious, dehydrated and with infected wounds. Some lose a lot of blood before reaching medical care in Israel.

Refaat Sharf, a nurse at Ziv, has treated 162 Syrian patients. Sharf told the Times of Israel that “as nurses, it’s unique to deal with wounded like this, we hadn’t been used to these injuries, neither in terms of their character nor their frequency.”

Israel has claimed that they are treating only civilians who had arrived on the border seeking medical treatment which they could not get in Syria, but according to the Israeli daily Haaretz, the report shows direct contact between the IDF and armed opposition fighters.

Haaretz reported that according to a report from December 3, 2013, on September 15 a wounded person “was taken by armed members of the opposition across the ceasefire line, where he was transferred to a civilian ambulance escorted by an IDF vehicle."

As well, between November 9 to 19 the “UNDOF observed at least 10 wounded persons being transferred by armed members of the opposition from the Bravo side across the ceasefire line to IDF."

Hannah BikelIsrael said to treat wounded members of IS and radical Syrian groups

Last month members of Israel's Druze minority protested against the hospitalization of wounded Syrian fighters from the al-Qaida linked al-Nusra Front in Israel.

A statement issued by a group of Druze activists involved in humanitarian aid to their brethren in Syria accused the Israeli government of supporting radical Sunni factions fighting against the Syrian government – by enabling them to get medical care.

"As we warned in the past, today it has become a fact that Israel supports all factions fighting the Syrian regime, and supplies them with weapons, and takes in the wounded of all faction, including Jabhat al-Nusra and Daesh," according to the statement issued by the group. "We call on members of the Druze sect to act severely toward Israel's policy."

The small Druze community in Israel, like the Druze in neighboring Syria and Lebanon, by and large support the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, favoring him over the Islamist rebels seeking to topple him.

Asked whether Israel does, in fact, hospitalize members of al-Nusra and Daesh (the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State organization), the military spokesman's office said: "In the past two years the Israel Defense Forces have been engaged in humanitarian, life-saving aid to wounded Syrians, irrespective of their identity."

Syria’s ambassador to the UN has also accused Israel of allowing cooperating with opposition fighters. Mr Bashar Ja’afari told Press TV that the militants have an “undeclared alliance with Israel and are engaged in a secret agreement” with the regime.

Be the first to comment

You need to be logged in to post comments. Sign up or log in