Nearly two years after United Nations reports first revealed that Israel was providing medical treatment for Syrian rebels, the Israeli army has agreed to allow reporters to document soldiers assisting wounded Syrians at the Israeli-Syrian border.
More than 1,400 wounded Syrians have received medical treatment in Israeli hospitals in the north as well as at a temporary hospital the army has set up near the border, the army has said. Vice News, the media outlet that has received permission to provide video documentation of the interaction, says 90 percent of the wounded were men.
A senior Israel Defense Forces official told Haaretz early this year that the rebels were assisted by an Israeli contact who helped them receive humanitarian assistance.
Earlier this month, Haaretz reported that UN observers in the Golan Heights began reporting in March 2013 that Israel had begun admitting injured Syrians for medical treatment in Safed and Nahariya hospitals. The Syrian ambassador to the UN complained of widespread cooperation between Israel and Syrian rebels, not only treatment of the wounded but also other aid.
The UN reports reveal direct contact between the IDF and armed opposition members.
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- Golan Residents Caught Spying for Syria
Israel at first asserted the injured were civilians reaching the border of their own initiative and without prior coordination because they could not obtain suitable treatment in Syria. Later, as the numbers increased, Israel said it was coordinating with civilians but not opposition groups.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has said the army was sending humanitarian aid such as heaters, blankets and baby formula to Syrian border villages. He said Israel was providing the assistance on condition that the more moderate militias in the border area keep radical militias away from the Israeli border.
Video by VICE News