Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu and outgoing Defense Minister Ehud Barak were yesterday asked to erect a field hospital along the Syrian border to treat victims of that country's civil war, in a letter signed by former President Yitzhak Navon and senior army reserve officers.

"There's a bloody war going on in Syria," the letter read. "Israel's citizens are following what's going on, are shocked by the Assad regime's deliberate slaughter of Syrian civilians, and are asking themselves: Does [a policy of] nonintervention, which was apparently formulated during the mass uprisings in other Arab countries, justify the continued viewing of what's going on in Syria from afar, when tens of thousands of people, among them children and the elderly, are falling victim to acts of indiscriminate killing?

"The policy of the government not to intervene in what's happening in Syria is absolutely acceptable to us and we support the decisions made in this matter," the letter continued.

"But offering humanitarian aid is an important point that must be revisited and put on the agenda. Humanitarian aid in the form of erecting a field hospital (in the buffer zone on the Golan) that will treat Syrian victims, save lives and heal the sick and wounded, can lead to a positive change in the way the Syrian population relates to the State of Israel.

"We have a rare opportunity here for a moral and humane gesture that could bring about a positive change in our future relations with the Syrians," the letter concluded. "Let's not miss this opportunity."

Along with Navon, signatories included - among others - Col. (res. ) Muki Betser, one of the commanders of the Entebbe rescue operation, and Col. (res. ) Moshe Fischer, who initiated the letter.

The idea of putting up a field hospital along the Syrian border was recently raised within the defense establishment, but the move hasn't been approved and no preparations have yet been made to establish it.