The Jewish state and Israeli citizens have rallied to aid the Syrian refugees on its border, investing tens of millions in their well-being.
The State of Israel and citizens are said to have donated at least $32 million on goods for Syrian civilians this year, including $26 million from donations and $6 million from the army budget for the cause, the Haaretz daily reported.
The numbers, obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, show that a large sum of the money has already been invested to buy medical equipment, food, and medicine.
Donations have come from organizations such as the Peres Center for Peace and private citizens, including Syrians residing in Chicago who donated to Israel’s fund.
The $32 million does not include the costs for the 3,500 Syrian patients who have received treatment in IDF-operated field hospitals along the border and in Israeli hospitals. The sum is estimated to run in the millions of dollars and is covered by the finance, health, and defense ministries.
From August 2016 to June 2017, 92 pallets of drugs, incubators, ventilation machinery, two ambulances, 1,970 feet of pipes, seven generators, 100 tons of warm clothing, 363 tons of food and 1,800 packets of diapers, were transferred to Syria.
“At the end of the day this is help for people who are really suffering on a day-to-day basis,” an IDF officer said. “The Israeli aid is helping save lives every day,” he added.
Israeli efforts have also made local goods more affordable to Syrian villagers. For example, the pita prices fell in the border region, after Israel sent tons of flour to the villages. The army also provided kitchen equipment before Ramadan.
Significant Element in Defending the Border
Initially, Israelis ensured that there was no Hebrew on any of the goods, but after a few months shipments became too frequent and too large to keep the effort alive.
The army has rejected criticism for the role it plays in easing the suffering of the Syrian civil war. It says rather than just being of humanitarian nature, its activities are also of military significance. Good relations with its neighbors makes Israel more secure and restrains hostile groups in the border region.
“It’s not a burden. This is a significant element in defending the border, and it has operational significance,” Brig. Gen. Yaniv Asor said last month.
The army’s peace initiative also included sending over prefab houses to serve as classrooms. “There’s a whole generation of Syrian children who haven’t studied for years,” one IDF officer said. “The only thing that requires no education is guns.”
In July Israel officially acknowledged its aid to Syria, naming it Operation Good Neighbor. The assistance provided by the IDF includes 360 tons of food; 450,000 liters of gasoline, for heating, operating water wells, and ovens in bakeries; 50 tons of clothes; hundreds of packages of diapers; seven generators; six mules; and large quantities of pharmaceuticals such as painkillers and anesthetics.
By: The Tower