"We are saving the lives of our enemies"

As civil war rages in Syria, with an estimated 130,000 people killed and millions displaced after nearly three years of fighting, Israel has been quietly providing aid to some of the wounded. Since the effort was launched by the Israeli army, officials say, more than 700 Syrians have received treatment at medical centers in Israel or at a field hospital operated by medics along the heavily fortified border.

Patients have come from as far away as Homs, three hours to the north. Not all are war victims, said Oscar Embon, the director of the hospital in Safed, where the boy is being treated. The facility recently hosted four healthy women who crossed the border to give birth and then returned.

The endeavor has cost about $17 million so far, officials say, and has been praised as a triumph of humanitarianism over geopolitical concerns. After all, Israel and Syria are bitter foes that have fought three bloody wars.

“We are saving the lives of our enemies,” said Col. Tarif Bader, chief medical officer for the Israel Defense Forces Northern Command.

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