Golan Heights residents donate care packages to displaced Syrian neighbors
Israels Defense Force (IDF) on Tuesday evening delivered hundreds of care packages to displaced Syrians in what was described as a “unique and exciting” operation, enabled by Israeli residents of the Golan Heights who spent the past week collecting urgent supplies.
The care packages constituted “hundreds of personal gift bags...contain[ing] toys, crayons, games, candies and notes from the children of the Golan,” the IDF statement said on Wednesday, an effort coordinated by the Golan Regional Council, which set up a donation center.
“The supplies were brought to the IDF, who transferred them last night in two military operations to the other side of the fence,” the statement continued. The packages were delivered by the command of the “Bashan” Division to Syrians in camps in the North and South of the Syrian-part of the Golan Heights.
Tens of thousands of Syrians have fled a massive bombardment in the country's south as the government of President Bashar Al-Assad has employed a ground offensive to recapture rebel-held areas since June 19.
The UN had warned that more than 750,000 lives were at risk in the south, which was meant to be protected by a ceasefire put in place last year by Russia, Jordan, and the United States.
“We the residents of the Golan, look right over the fence and see the people fleeing from the killing fields together with their children,” Head of the Golan Regional Council, Mr Eli Malka was said according to the IDF statement.
“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 been our neighbors on the other side of the fence,” Malka added.
As part of an ongoing program dubbed 'Operation Good Neighbor’ the IDF has provided humanitarian aid to the dispossessed Syrians. It also established two medical facilities --one for women and another for general health -- in Syrian territory as a way of providing care for wounded civilians and select combatants.
“All of this was done for our neighbors on the other side of the fence, who have been educated to hate Israel and everything related to it,” Commander of the Operation, Lt. Col. E said. “In recent years [the Syrians] have understood that the only country which has aided them was the same one they feared,” he added.
The army also revealed that under the auspices of operation 'Good Neighbor', that began in June 2016, Israel has transferred 360 tons of food and flour to civilians across the border.
Despite the readiness to hand out aid, Israel however has refused to accept refugees, a practice which Jordan recently halted.
But at the start of the week, the number of people who remained in the immediate vicinity of Syria's border with Jordan dwindled to some 200.
Israel and Syria are still technically at war, as they have never signed a peace treaty. But a 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement was signed, establishing a UNDOF buffer zone located on Syria's southern border with Israel.
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