The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has revealed details of its secretive humanitarian aid operation with Israel’s war-torn neighbor, Syria.
The mission, dubbed Operation Good Neighbor, began several years ago as an ad-hoc measure to treat Syrians who came to the border asking for help from the IDF. The effort morphed into an expanded humanitarian program in June 2016, as needs continued to grow, the IDF said.
According to the IDF, Operation Good Neighbor has provided medical treatment to more than 4,000 people, including hundreds of children. It transferred almost 119,000 gallons of heating and cooking fuel, as well as 40 tons of flour, 225 tons of food, 12,000 packages of baby formula, 1,800 packages of diapers, 12 tons of shoes and 55 tons of cold weather clothing.
Additionally, the IDF is facilitating the construction of two clinics within Syria that will be run by local residents and NGOs in the region to support some 80,000 Syrians living near the Israeli border. Another clinic is being constructed on an IDF outpost on the Israeli side of the border.
“The people of Syria want peace with Israel,” one of the aid recipients wrote from an Israeli hospital. “To any Syrians that think that Israel is our enemy — you are wrong.”
The IDF said it provides the aid out of a “moral imperative” as well as the hope that it will create a less hostile environment in Syria.
“I can truly say that the medical care we have provided to our neighbors here in the north of Israel is one of the most significant efforts to treat those in need that I have ever witnessed,” said Col. Dr. Noam Fink, the chief medical officer of the IDF’s Northern Command.
A report last month revealed that Israel has also been giving secret humanitarian and military aid to Syrian rebel groups along Israel's border. JN