TEL AVIV – Tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing a major offensive in the country’s south have pitched tents on the border with Israel over recent days. The IDF is responding by sending several tons of medical supplies and food over the border and even bringing in six wounded refugees – including four children – into Israeli territory to receive treatment in a local hospital.
Delivering the six wounded Syrians into Israel was a “unique and complex medical operation,” the army said in a statement issued Friday, but added that in general the country would “not be bringing Syrian refugees into Israeli territory and will continue to act to protect Israel’s security interests.”
“In a unique and complex medical operation by the Bashan Division, six moderately to severely injured Syrian were received and treated last Friday night, including four children. According to reports from the Syrian side, the families of the children were killed in bombings during the fighting in Syria, and the children were rushed to Israel to receive treatment,” the statement read.
The six, who range from six-years-old to 25, sustained shrapnel injuries during Syrian President Bashar Assad’s massive offensive against rebels in the south.
The IDF also said on Friday that it had sent several tons of humanitarian aid over the border. Some 160,000 Syrians are thought to have fled the fighting in the southwestern Deraa region, with several thousand setting up temporary refuges on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
“The IDF is monitoring what is going on in southern Syria and is prepared for a variety of scenarios, including continuing to provide humanitarian aid to fleeing Syrians,” the army said.
Three-hundred tents and 50 tons of humanitarian aid – including food, baby food, clothing, shoes and medical supplies – were sent over as part of the ongoing Operation Good Neighbor and lasted “several hours,” the army said.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Israel was “prepared to provide any humanitarian assistance to civilians, women, and children,” but emphasized that “we will not accept any Syrian refugees into our territory.”
A video posted Friday showed some of the refugees calling on Israel to save them.
The makeshift camps in the area of the 1974 ceasefire are an apparent attempt to stave off an attack from Assad forces, since the regime is unlikely to encroach near the border with Israel.
“In these camps, located near the border, there are several thousand Syrians living in deteriorating conditions, without access to water, electricity, food sources, or basic necessities. In recent days, there’s been an increase in the number of Syrians living in these camps,” the IDF said.
Since 2013, Syria has been on the receiving end of aid, including bringing sick children over the border to treat in Israeli hospitals and setting up field hospitals in war-torn country.
Israel also established a field clinic along the border last year and to date, the clinic has administered treatment to some 6,000 Syrians.