An Israeli aid agency has been quietly operating in Iraq, providing emergency relief for Iraqi Kurds.
Recently, in the Kurdish city of Dohuk, IsraAID, the Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid, supplied beds, blankets, and food to over 1,000 families, reports Israel National News. Working with a Canadian relief agency, the Israelis brought a convoy to the 14,000-person refugee camp carrying 2,000 blankets and mattresses, as well as enough powdered milk for all the 1,015 babies under one year of age.
Winter is coming, with cold weather and rain already arriving. Extensive snowstorms and freezing temperatures will be on their way soon enough. The Israeli emergency supplies are appreciated, as many at the camp arrived with nothing more than the clothes on their own backs and are living in exposed conditions, tents or huts. Aid workers soon witnessed the extreme conditions faced by the refugees when a storm tore through the camp, flooding the entire area and destroying many of the tents.
“They were aware that we were Israeli, and they received us very well. The Kurdish people really love Israel,” said IsraAID’s Founding Director Shahar Zahavi.
Israel has good relations with the Kurdish people, though for political reasons the relationship is often covert. The Israeli and Kurdish people are both wary of and threatened by the wave of Islamic fundamentalism sweeping the Middle East.
Since 2001, IsraAID has provided aid to disaster zones across the world, from Haiti to Japan, and from the Philippines to South Sudan. But Zahavi explained that there is a special relationship with the Kurds. As the Middle East’s only full democracy, Israel feels a special duty to aid the Kurds–who are the largest stateless nation in the region–in their struggle for freedom against Islamist forces, Zahavi said.
The mission to Dohuk was the first of its kind by an Israeli aid agency. Duhok is part of the autonomous Kurdish region run by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). Some two million refugees, including Christians and Yazidis, have fled to the area to escape ISIS’s genocidal military campaign in much of Iraq.