News items on assistance to Syrian refugees by Israeli organizations and individuals.

Rambam Hospital And the Syrian Woman Told to Choose Between Her Life or Her Baby’s

(posted on March 14th 2018, by Aboud Dandachi)

Of the many incredible stories of Israel’s humanitarian efforts for Syrians over the past five years, an overlooked post on the website of Israel’s Rambam Hospital recalls what must be one of the most amazing acts of medical compassion not only in the Middle East, but in recent history. Indeed, this one incident is enough to hold up the staff and doctors at Rambam as a shinning example to be emulated by health professionals the world over.

A pregnant Syrian woman the south of Syria, in her ninth month of pregnancy, developed severe health complications. The Syrian doctors treating her at the time told her that such was the severity of her situation, that a C-section was imperative. Unfortunately, the carrying out of such a procedure would have resulted in the certain death of her unborn child. The woman was basically told that unless she received more advanced medical treatment, it was a choice between her life, or the life of her child.

Not being able to reach Damascus to the north, the unnamed woman left her family and traveled alone to the Israeli border. Once there, she was taken to the Rambam Hospital, and treated by no less of a figure than Professor Ido Solt, Director of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and a world renown expert in high risk pregnancies.

The list of departments and medical experts involved in treating the unnamed Syrian woman’s case is long and impressive. Working with Dr Solt were Rambam’s Department of Vascular Surgery and Transplantation, Dr. Igor Kogan, an angiography expert and the Interventional Radiology Unit of the Department of Medical Imaging. A procedure was developed that could not possibly have been performed anywhere else in the region, which allowed the doctors to perform a C-section and deliver the baby in good health. After two weeks recovering at the hospital, mother and child returned to their family in the south of Syria.

No one reading the story above could possibly be failed to be moved and impressed by the amount of expertise and resources that Rambam brought to bear to treat this incredibly difficult case. The hospital itself has been mentioned many times on this blog, as a place where Syrian victims of the conflict have found life saving treatment on numerous occasions.

While countless countries and superpowers have gone to great lengths to wage war in Syria, Israel has distinguished itself by being the one country willing to take risks to treat Syrian victims of the war. As this case illustrates yet again, the level of care Syrians have been receiving in Israeli hospitals has been indistinguishable from that available to citizens of Israel itself. A Syrian woman, unable to obtain critical medical care in her country’s capital city, instead found it in a country that Arabs have been taught for generations to regard as the ultimate evil. As these dark times have proven again and again, Israel is infact the very kind of society that the Middle East needs more of. Israelis have every right to be proud of the efforts of its army and medical institutions in a time of the region’s history were very few participants have distinguished themselves in a good way.

The full story can be read here on the Rambam Hospital’s website.

2018-03-14T11:29:41+00:00 March 14th, 2018|

Syrian Doctors Turn to Israel for Urgently Needed Help with Maternity Health Care

(posted on March 6th 2018, by Aboud Dandachi)

In December 2017, the website Israel21c published an article by Abigail Klein Leichman on the assistance the IDF gave to open a brand new Syrian maternity hospital over the border inside Syria itself. Staffed by Syrian medical staff using equipment donated entirely by Israeli citizens, the hospital has treated over 200 pregnant women, and witnessed 30 births.

According to the article, “the hospital reportedly was opened in November in response to an urgent request from Syrian doctors who saw that many women could not get to the existing maternity hospital due to the difficult conditions.”

It says alot about the current state of the Middle East, that when Syrian doctors were desperate for assistance in providing medical care for pregnant Syrian women, they could not turn to the Iranian-backed despotic regime in Damascus, nor the Arab League, nor the increasingly ineffectual United Nations to provide something as non-controversial and straightforward as maternity medical care.

But such is the state of dysfunction of the Arab world, that it was Israel, a country that had every excuse and reason under the sun to stay above and out of the conflict, who stepped up and provided life-saving assistance to pregnant Syrian mothers and their newborns. Not Iran, nor the Russians, nor the Lebanese or Jordanians, and especially not the Assad dictatorship. Yet again, one is left utterly speechless and at a loss for words at the unprecedented and astonishing humanitarian actions of Israel and its citizens and army. Syrian babies will now be born into the world in a safe and healthy environment thanks to the efforts and donations of a country their parents were taught to regard as the ultimate evil in the region.

And while Israel’s detractors cannot even bring themselves to acknowledge Israel’s humanitarian efforts to Syrian victims of the conflict, not even they will be able to spin Israeli aid to maternity health care as “supporting ISIS and Al-Qaeda”. Of course, to the despotic regime in Damascus and their disgraceful backers, even Syrian babies in opposition areas are “ISIS and Al-Aqaeda”. Fortunately, Syrians have a far more humane neighbor in Israel. It cannot be said enough times, if only more of Syria’s neighbors were as humane as the Israelis, there would have been alot less Syrian refugees in this world.

The entire article by Israel21c is available here.

 

2018-03-06T12:14:53+00:00 March 6th, 2018|

A Study in Contrasts, Israeli and Kuwaiti Treatment of Traumatized Syrians

(posted on February 27th 2018, by Aboud Dandachi)

In 2015, at the height of the exodus of Syrian refugees to countries in the West, the wealthy Arab Gulf countries were very conspicuous in their refusal to take in any Syrian refugees. Indeed, Kuwait used the fact that many of these refugees would be suffering from psychological issues from the trauma of the war, as an excuse to shirk any and all responsibility for their care. Such was the composition and attitude of the group of nations that labeled itself “Friends of the Syrian People”.

Fast forward to 2018, and it took a very enterprising bit of reporting by Daniella P. Cohen over at The Medialine, to bring to light yet another aspect of Israel’s already astonishing and unprecedented care and aid to Syrian victims of the war. In addition to providing treatment to Syrian wounded, cancer patients, and children with hearing disabilities, Israel apparently is even going so far as to provide treatment to Syrians suffering from trauma and other psychological issues.

Israel’s Galilee Medical Center has treated over 2,300 Syrians, forty percent of whom were women and children. In addition to the expected trauma of war, some Syrians arrive at the center unconscious. The shock of finding themselves being treated in an Israeli hospital by Israeli medical staff has been so profound that the center has setup a procedure to acclimatize new patients to their unexpected surroundings.

“Hana Solomon, Director of the Social Work Department at the Galilee Medical Center, stated that while most of the Syrians at the center have “never had the serious problem of classic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), there have been those experiencing suicidal tendencies and acute stress reactions. We have had children with depression who were seen by our psychiatrists.” ”

This at a time when even most universal health care plans in better off societies don’t even cover therapy. While the “Friends of Syria” may be content to occasionally write a few cheques for tents to house Syrian refugees indefinitely, Israel continues to astonish, astound and amaze with its incredible humanitarian efforts to a people from a country to which the term “friend” could never have applied since those two countries came into being. Israel’s humanitarian efforts are as ground breaking as they are under reported by most of the world’s media. Medialine isn’t a well known name among media outlets, but to their credit they have reported on an amazing aspect of Israel’s aid to Syrians.

The complete article is available here. 

2018-02-28T00:09:26+00:00 February 28th, 2018|

An Indication on How Comprehensive Israeli Aid to Syrians Has Been.

(posted on 12 February 2018, by Aboud Dandachi)

The Jerusalem Post had a lengthy and detailed piece and video on Operation Good Neighbor, the Israel Defense Force’s efforts to help wounded Syrians and provide aid across the border to Syrian communities in need.

Of particular interest was details of some of the aid provided by Israel NGOs and the Israeli government, whose scope and breadth was very comprehensive in terms of what communities suffering from a war would need:

542,880 liters of gas; 174 tons of clothes; 13 generators; 400 items of medical equipment, such as incubators and surgery room equipment; and 113 pallets holding 2,214 boxes of medicines have been given to Syrian civilians with the assistance of the IDF.

In addition, 6,351 packages of diapers have been sent across the border as well as 600 meters of piping to re-establish ruined water infrastructure, providing running water to 5,000 people in the villages. Mobile caravans have also been delivered to Syrians across the border to use as clinics and classrooms.

It is apparent from the quantity and quality of the assistance that Operation Good Neighbor is providing that this was and remains an extremely serious effort on the part of Israel and Israelis. This is not a case of “cheques for better tents” as often has been the case in the region. Indeed, Israelis are providing aid to Syrians with the same commitment and dedication as they would provide aid to faraway Jewish communities.

The entire article is available here. 

2018-02-12T18:57:17+00:00 February 12th, 2018|

NPR Report on Israeli Civilian Aid to Syrians

 Yotvat Fireizen-Weil, an Israeli volunteer, prepares boxes of children's medicines to be sent to Syria. She says her family sees Syria as the enemy and has found it hard to understand her activism on behalf of Syrians amid the Syrian civil war. Daniel Estrin/NPR


Yotvat Fireizen-Weil, an Israeli volunteer, prepares boxes of children’s medicines to be sent to Syria. She says her family sees Syria as the enemy and has found it hard to understand her activism on behalf of Syrians amid the Syrian civil war. (Daniel Estrin/NPR)

(posted on August 30th 2017, by Aboud Dandachi)

NPR published a report on Just Beyound our Border, a remarkable Israeli civilian aid group that has to date collected over half a million dollars worth of aid and donations for Syrian victims of the conflict there, and which has proven itself more effective than the far better funded UN aid initiatives inside Syria.

Staffed by Israeli civilian volunteers, the group has collected donations from Israelis donors and American Jewish organizations, which are then used to purchase medical supplies. The supplies themselves are delivered inside Syria by the Israeli NGO “Israeli Flying Aid”.

To date, no less than nine Syrian hospitals have received life saving medical equipment acquired by Just Beyound our Borders.

It is a remarkable testament to the compassion and humanity of Israel’s people that so much has been achieved through purely civilian means, especially when contrasted with the near hopeless aid distribution efforts of initiatives run by the UN. It takes an enormous amount of logistics and courage to deliver life saving aid inside a war zone even under the most accommodating of circumstances, and it is astonishing that Just Beyound our Border have been able to do so much for Syrians, under very adverse conditions.

(more…)

2017-08-30T14:05:06+00:00 August 30th, 2017|

The Night it All Began, from the Times of Israel

(posted on August 27th, 2017, by Aboud Dandachi)

The Times of Israel published a remarkable article by “Lieutenant Colonel A”, the commander of the IDF’s incredible efforts to provide aid and medical assistance to Syrian victims of the conflict in Syria, and the night it all began.

The colonel recounts the very moment the first group of 25 Syrian children crossed into the Golan to be received by soldiers from the IDF’s famed Golani brigade.

“It was surreal to see a mother holding her little daughter’s hands, almost collapsing from weakness. Instinctively, one of the Golani soldiers on the scene noticed the woman stumble and leapt towards her, gathering the child up in his arms”

There is something highly symbolic in an Israeli soldier instinctively displaying such humanity to a Syrian mother and child fleeing atrocities committed by the Syrian army. Indeed, alone among the region and world’s powers, Israel is the only country that has not sent in proxies to kill Syrians, but has directed its efforts towards saving Syrian lives, rather than adding to the killing.

(more…)

2017-08-27T12:52:00+00:00 August 27th, 2017|

The Syrian child saved by a compassionate miracle in Israel

Illustrative photo of Rambam Hospital staff (TOI)

Illustrative photo of Rambam Hospital staff (TOI)

Just when the vicious wars of the Middle East causes one to dismay of the nature of human beings in general, someone in the region rises to perform an act of compassion that is not just magnificent, but absolutely miraculous. For the sake of an ill five year old Syrian child, Israel performed the modern day equivalent of laying hands on the sick and curing them of their afflictions.

The Times of Israel ran a report on what will go down in history as one of the most amazing acts of compassion in living memory. At Haifa’s Rambam Hospital, the medical staff treated a Syrian child with severe injuries received from being caught in a crossfire between two warring Syrian militias. Rambam hospital has over the past few years been one of the major Israeli hospitals treating Syrians wounded in the war.

What gave this particular child’s story an extraordinary aspect is what happened after her treatment for her wounds. Doctors at the hospital discovered that the child also suffered from cancer. The doctors’ own medical ethics would not allow them to release the child from their care until she had been treated.

To this end, Israel’s security services helped to locate one of the girl’s relatives for a bone marrow transplant. And locate one they did. In another Arab country, officially at war with Israel.

And they bought that relative to Israel to save the child’s life.

Bought. The Relative. To Israel.

If the Arab world in general wasn’t already in an advanced state of moral and ethical decay, this one act of miraculous compassion on the part of Israel’s medical and security teams should have dramatically changed perceptions and attitudes overnight, and not just regarding Arabs’ attitude towards Jews, but towards one another as well.

It is said that darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. For years, the vicious terror group Daesh have enjoyed widespread media attention through deeds of savage barbarity, and the actions of the medical staff at Rambam is the light that has the capacity to drown out the darkness created by Daesh and groups like it.

In the days of scripture, prophets would change the attitudes of entire societies by being shinning examples and paradigms of compassion and kindness. It would take a miracle to drag the Arab world out of its self destructive nature, but Rambam hospital and the Israeli security teams that helped save the unnamed Syrian child have delivered just such a miracle, that in normal times should have been the spark that finally leads to some introspective soul searching among Arabs, not just regarding their relations with Israel, but towards one another.

Evil versus good. As a Syrian, over the past few years I have seen my own country fall apart. As an Arab, I have seen five other Arab countries follow suit. Israelis might not have any oil, but Israeli society has something much more valuable and precious; boundless compassion, even towards those who regard it as an adversary. Day after day, Israelis are proving that their country is the exact moral opposite of the depravity that is Daesh and Daesh-like group, a contrast as stark as light and day.

It cannot be said enough, Syrians owe a debt a gratitude to Israelis. No Arab country has ever gone to the lengths that Israel did to save a Syrian life. Once again, thank you Am Israel.

To read the original Times of Israel article, click here.

2016-04-11T09:52:04+00:00 April 11th, 2016|

When Syrian refugees would rather live next to the Israeli border than in Lebanese towns

An improvised Syrian refugee camp on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

An improvised Syrian refugee camp on the Israeli-Lebanese border, closer to Israeli settlements than to any Lebanese communities.

The Jewish Press website posted an article and video by Israel’s Channel One News, of improvised Syrian refugee camps just opposite the Israeli border with Lebanon. The refugee camps were set up opposite the kibbutzim of Dan, Dafna, and Ma’ayan Baruch, far away from any Lebanese towns or population centers, but very close to the Israeli border. As the report noted, “the new camps are closer to Israeli communities than they are to their Lebanese neighbors”.

It should come as little surprise that Syrian refugees would feel safer living near the Israeli border than in some Lebanese communities. In dozens of Lebanese towns and areas, apartheid-like curfews and restrictions are imposed on the movement and presence of Syrians. In the past, members of the Hizbollah terror group have kidnapped defected Syrian soldiers and activists and handed them over to the Syrian regime’s mukhabarat. Syrian refugee camps near the border with Syria itself have often been attacked and burned down by the Lebanese army.

Syrian refugees elsewhere in Lebanon are vulnerable to horrendous exploitation. In early April 2016, a massive forced-sex and prostitution ring in north Beirut was discovered and dismantled, its victims included over 75 Syrian women and girls, a scale of sexual-slavery comparable to the worst outrages committed by the so-called Islamic State.

It is little wonder that many Syrian refugees in Lebanon look upon the Israeli border as a place of sanctuary. Often, it is far safer for a Syrian refugee to be living next door to an Israeli kibbutz than to live in a Lebanese town or city.

To read the original Jewish News article, click here.

2016-04-04T08:11:28+00:00 April 4th, 2016|

Tablet article on Israeli NGO’s assistance to Syrian refugees in Serbia

tablet-march

Tablet Magazine ran a lengthy article on the Natan Israeli humanitarian NGO’s aid efforts and medical assistance to refugees crossing the Serbia-Macedonia border.

Several things stand out from reading the piece. In the several days that the writer, Amir Tibon, was at the field clinic, he counted no less than 30 babies, 10 pregnant women, seven people in wheelchairs, there patients suffering from diabetes, one blind person and two individuals who had lost limbs. These truly are among the most needy and desperate individuals to flee the Middle East, and there is no overstating the importance of the medical assistance that the Israeli medical staff provided these refugees.

Second, despite their desperate medical situation and need for rest, few of the refugees stayed more than a few hours or more than a night, recuperating at the clinic. All were desperate to continue on to Germany or Sweden, lest they be trapped behind closed borders. There can be no better indication or proof of the desperation of these unfortunate refugees.

There has been alot of understandable ambivalence on the part of many Jews and Israelis on assisting people from countries and societies that have traditionally been hostile to the Jewish people. In the end though, no one can be forced or pressured into offering charity, charity has to be freely given.

But Dr. Eitan Damari from Be’er Sheva very eloquently summed up the conflict between politics and the moral imperative;

Look, you can be racist in politics, everyone is a bit like that these days, but when it comes to medical treatment, the rules are different. When you see a person that needs help, you don’t ask them where they’re from or what’s their religion. You just help them. That’s what you have to do.

And finally, in the article, the aid being offered by the Natan medical team is described as “Advil for cancer”.

No. Speaking as a refugee myself, I can say that to a desperate person in a strange land, there is no such thing as “just Advil”, not when most of the world has closed their borders to Syrian refugees and many countries such as Slovenia, Poland and the USA won’t even tolerate our very presence. Refugees notice and remember the most trivial of interactions. A kind smile or a screaming policeman. Free meals and unscrupulous smugglers. Donated cloth or doors shut in their faces.

Every “Advil” offered in kindness and compassion is hope to a refugee, hope that somewhere in the world there are enough charitable people that a refugee and their family will be able to make a home for themselves, to put together the pieces of lives torn apart by Middle Eastern despots and warlords. When one is a refugee, the hope generated by kind donations of food,shelter and medicine far, far outweighs the material cost of the aid offered.

“Just Advil”? The hope that Natan and other Israeli aid organizations are giving to the refugees trekking across European countries is beyond measure. It is the sort of aid that can never be repaid in full.

2016-03-12T03:31:14+00:00 March 12th, 2016|

IL4Syria;the Israelis who succeeded where the UN & “anti-ISIS” coalition failed

With the brutal Syrian conflict entering its sixth year, the plight of civilians trapped by the war inside the country has grown increasingly more desperate, with entire neighborhoods and towns besieged by the Syrian Army and its Hizbollah & Iranian terrorist allies.

International efforts to provide relief and assistance to civilians trapped by the war have amounted to little; UN aid to areas affected by the conflict has been less than a trickle, the vast amount having been appropriated by the regime to distribute among its own supporters, with very little aid actually reaching besieged communities. Time and again, diplomatic squabbling and the UN’s own desire to avoid alienating the Assad regime have worked to strangle any meaningful assistance to civilians who have endured years of siege and starvation tactics, in addition to indiscriminate bombings of hospitals, schools, aid clinics and bakeries, first from the regime’s airforce and more recently at the hands of Russian warplanes.

And the “anti-ISIS” coalition currently running bombing raids all over Syria haven’t been much better. Apparently, the entire combined air-forces of the “coalition” cannot manage to airdrop life saving basic supplies such as bread and water to civilians who have been besieged by the regime for years.

And yet where the UN and the “anti-ISIS” coalition have so abjectly failed, a group of a couple of hundred Israeli civilian aid workers have succeeded, managing the superhuman and heroic feat of transporting life saving food, survival kits and even medical equipment for entire clinics to deep within Syria, assisting communities which have borne the brunt of the joint regime-Hizbollah-Iranian-Russian onslaught.

Israel21C published an article extensively detailing the astounding efforts of IL4Syria, an Israeli NGO of around 200 Israeli volunteers, and who have been providing aid to Syrian civilians affected by the war since the earliest days of the conflict. From providing such basic items as food, baby powder and medical supplies, IL4Syria’s efforts evolved as the conflict grew more brutal.

The list of assistance provided by IL4Syria is remarkable;supplies for 17 field hospitals, the training of Syrian civil defense volunteers,thousands of chemical suits to help doctors treat patients affected by the repeated regime chemical weapons attacks on civilian areas, 3D printers to print out prosthetic limbs. More assistance has been provided to besieged Syrians by the small group of Israeli volunteers than the entire UN has managed, with its hopelessly broken system of appeasement of and collusion with the Assad dictatorship.

The dangers these Israeli volunteers risk cannot be overstated. The Syrian war is by far and away the most brutal conflict in decades, with much of the country overrun by Hizbollah, Iranian mercenaries, ISIS, Al-Qaeda and other terror groups in open hostility to Israel. And yet the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians who have benefited from IL4Syria‘s assistance would undoubtedly not be alive today were it not for that aid.

History will record that while the UN dithered for years and the “anti-ISIS” coalition remained oblivious to the ordeal of Syrians trapped by the war, it was Israeli volunteers who provided life saving assistance to civilians in need. The scope of the efforts, and the dangers the volunteers risked to deliver them, are truly heroic. And without a doubt, history will regard the efforts and work of the Israeli volunteers of IL4Syria to help Syrians trapped by the war, as one of the greatest feats of humanitarian assistance ever carried out.

To read the entire Israel21c article, click here.

2016-02-27T23:38:50+00:00 February 27th, 2016|
Load More Posts