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

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.

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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.

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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|

Dramatic video of IsraAID teams helping refugees on Lesbos

israaid_greece_lesbos1

The Kikar Ha Shabat web portal posted a very dramatic video of an IsraAID medical team treating and assisting refugees on the very beaches of the Greek island of Lesbos, literally the front line of the refugee crisis. The description of the ordeals the refugees go through to reach Lesbos are harrowing to say the least. Mistreated and exploited by smugglers in Turkey, refugees are crowded 150 on boats meant for only a third of that number, with barely enough fuel in the engine to reach halfway to Greece.

But those who manage to reach Lesbos find a well organized and highly efficient IsraAID team of medical and aid volunteers. Boats are tracked as soon as they come into binocular range, and medical assistance, warm cloth and sustenance is provided the moment the refugees are helped out of the boats onto the beach. And the comfort and relief a refugee experiences on finding Arabic speakers among the rescue team cannot be overstated.

Nor the personal risks that the IsraAID team members run. Needless to say, they have no idea who they will be meeting on the beaches of Lesbos on any given day, only that they will be strangers, not just from Syria, but from other countries that have traditionally been hostile to Jews and Israelis.

And that they are strangers in need of help. After days and possibly weeks of being exploited at the hands of remorseless human smugglers, and risking their lives on a terrifying journey to a strange land, the welcome and assistance provided by the IsraAID volunteers is something no refugee will forget for the rest of their lives.

To see the video in its entirety click here.

2016-02-23T20:05:34+00:00 February 23rd, 2016|

Vice News’ in-depth report & video on Israeli hospital treating Syrians

 

A patient being transported to Ziv Medical Center by the IDF (Photo via Ziv Medical Center)

A patient being transported to Ziv Medical Center by the IDF (Photo via Ziv Medical Center)

Back in July 2015 Vice News published a 30 minute video and an in-depth report by Sara E. Williams on the medical care and treatment being provided to wounded Syrians by Israel’s Ziv Medical Center, a hospital just 40 minutes away from the border with Syria.

The report makes for remarkable reading. Of the more than 2,000 Syrians who were treated at Ziv since early 2013, over 340 were children. While amputations are the expected outcome for patients who are treated in Jordan, the Israeli medical teams in Ziv have managed to save all except a very few number of limbs. Among Syrians, Israeli hospitals have acquired a near legendary reputation. As one member of the staff at Ziv put it; “they think we can do miracles so they bring lost cases”.

And in Israel, political or military affiliation is never a factor in whether a patient receives treatment. True to the spirit and letter of the Hippocratic Oath, Israeli doctors do not withhold treatment based on political feelings. It is a far cry from the common practice in Syria itself, where wounded demonstrators would face torture or be killed outright if they ended up in a hospital controlled by the regime.

The community in which the hospital is located have also shown a tremendous amount of generosity towards the Syrian patients, donating items and funds for prosthetic limbs and dental surgery.

To read the lengthy report and see the video, click here.

2016-02-10T19:09:54+00:00 February 10th, 2016|

BBC; revolutionary Israeli procedure that rebuilt a wounded Syrian’s face

The_logo_of_rambam_health_care_campus_cIn February 2015 the BBC ran a remarkable article on a revolutionary procedure carried out by Israel’s Rambam Hospital to rebuild a wounded Syrian farmer’s face, using a titanium jaw created via a 3D printer.

The procedure was the first of its kind in Israel, having been pioneered only a few years previously in Europe.

The Haifa based Rambam hospital treats around one fifth of the total number of wounded Syrians who come to or are sent to Israel for treatment.

To read the entire article and view the video report, click here.

2016-01-30T23:04:16+00:00 January 30th, 2016|
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