Israel Operating Field Hospital Along Border With Syria

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Israel has reportedly set up a field hospital along the border with Syria to treat Syrians wounded in their country's bitter and bloody civil war. According to the French news agency AFP, the hospital is situated at Fortification 105 in the northern section of the Golan Heights. The Israel Defense Forces has declined to comment on the AFP report, but the IDF senior command has for some time been weighing the possibility of establishing a field hospital in a Golan Heights army base, in light of the increasing number of wounded Syrians being sent to the border with Israel.

A group of seven wounded Syrians on Wednesday arrived at the border with Israel, where they received medical treatment from an IDF unit. Two of those seriously wounded were transferred to Israeli hospitals to receive further medical attention. One of them, an active member of the Syrian opposition who was evacuated to Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya, subsequently died of his wounds. On Wednesday night, an additional wounded Syrian who was in a very serious condition was brought to Western Galilee Hospital. So far, the IDF has allowed 11 wounded Syrians requesting medical assistance into Israel.

Seven wounded Syrians were evacuated for medical treatment to Rebecca Sieff Hospital in Safed in February. A few days after their evacuation, six of them were returned to Syria in the middle of the night, while the seventh is still hospitalized in Israel. Last week, an additional group of four wounded Syrians reached the Israeli border. Two of them were hospitalized in Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.

Senior reserve IDF officers and public figures in February submitted a request to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and outgoing Defense Minister Ehud Barak that Israel grant humanitarian aid to Syrians wounded in the country's devastating civil war. The signatories to that letter, who included former President Yitzhak Navon, proposed the establishment of a field hospital on the Israeli-Syrian border that could provide medical treatment to individuals wounded in the fighting.

"Offering humanitarian aid is an important point that must be revisited and put on the agenda," the letter said. "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.

The IDF’s Military Intelligence branch has detected an increase in the level of violence that Syrian President Bashar Assad is using against rebel forces in an attempt to consolidate the regime’s hold on the areas where the battles are raging. According to data presented by Head of Military Intelligence Major General Aviv Kochavi at the annual Herzliya conference two weeks ago, Assad’s forces have already fired 70 Scud and M-600 missiles on populated areas of Syria. Just beyond Israel's borders, Kochavi noted, the attacks and the fighting are going on continuously “with raids being conducted by both parties.” Along this border, there are enclaves of rebels and of Syrian troops, and the enclaves regularly conduct attacks on one another. The echoes of the fighting that sometimes reach the Israeli border stem from the battles between these enclaves.

Last Sunday, the IDF fired a Tamuz anti-tank missile at a Syrian army position, destroying it completely, after light arms fire was directed on two separate occasions in a single 24-hour period at IDF troops on the Golan Heights. Two Syrian soldiers were wounded in this incident.

A Syrian wounded in fighting within Syria is carried into Rambam Hospital in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, March 20, 2013.Credit: Reuters
A newly built military field hospital in IDF base 105, Golan Heights, March 27, 2013.Credit: AFP

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