Syrian rebel: “The Israelis showed us their humanity”
posted at 2:25 pm on October 16, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
The Israelis have kept a fairly low profile in regard to the civil war in Syria. They have rebutted the notion that their security would be compromised in any outcome of the conflict, but otherwise have tried to keep their mouths shut. That doesn’t mean that Israel has had no contact with the conflict, though. McClatchy reported earlier today that some of the moderate rebels have turned to Israeli medical care in a pinch — and that may be more influential in the end:
Syria and Israel are formally at war, and the idea of Syrians being treated in an Israeli hospital once would have been unthinkable. But the brutality of the Syrian civil war has driven some 200 wounded Syrians in the past six months to seek help at the Israeli frontier on the Golan Heights, according to the Israeli army.
Soldiers take them to a field hospital for treatment and triage, with more serious cases sent to hospitals in northern Israel. About 100 have been treated at the Nahariya hospital, with more arriving as news of the Israeli medical aid spreads by word of mouth.
For the man in the bed, who declined to be named for fear of retribution against his family back home, treatment in Israel has been a profoundly transforming experience.
“I thank the Israeli army,” he said. “Two and a half years of revolution have changed my opinion of Israel. Look what Bashar Assad” – Syria’s president – “has done to his people. Everything he says is a lie. He spreads hatred of Israel, but Israel is a friend, not an enemy. The Israelis showed us their humanity.”
It’s not an isolated case, either:
In one hospital room, a 22-year-old fighter from the Free Syrian Army was recovering from a gunshot wound in the shoulder. The Syrian army, he asserted, had committed atrocities, destroying mosques and raping women. “The Free Syrian Army will never fight Israel,” he said. “Assad’s army is the enemy, not the Israeli military.” …
A 17-year-old who entered the room in a wheelchair said that at the border he’d been frightened by Israeli soldiers pointing their rifles at him and ordering him to raise his hands. After an examination and transfer for medical treatment, he said he was surprised by the “compassion, sympathy and humanity” shown him at the hospital.
This won’t change the face of the Middle East on its own … but it’s a start, and a good reminder of the differences between the regimes’ propaganda and reality in the region.