Visiting Wounded Syrians, President Rivlin Says U.S. Strike Proves Some 'Red Lines Cannot Be Crossed'

Reuven Rivlin visits hospital as Israeli army announces in unusual statement that it treated seven wounded Syrians last week.

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President Rivlin visits injured Syrian nationals receiving treatment in Israel's Western Galilee Medical Center. April 9, 2017.
President Rivlin visits injured Syrian nationals receiving treatment in Israel's Western Galilee Medical Center. April 9, 2017.Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO

President Reuven Rivlin visited on Sunday wounded Syrians who were being treated at an Israeli hospital, as the army released an unusual statement saying it took in seven injuired Syrians last week.

"The U.S. proved on Friday that there are red lines that cannot be crossed," Rivlin said during the visit at the Western Gallilee Medical Center, referring to the U.S. military response to a gas attack in northern Syria that killed dozens of civilians. "We, the Jews of Israel who came from dust, know that silence is not an option, and so we thank all those who, in our name, do what is our obligation to do," he said.

Hospital Director Dr. Masad Barhom said that it had been touching to be able to treat the wounded Syrians, and to be able to "turn an enemy into a friend." He did, however, also stress the heavy financial burden that the work they do puts upon the hospital. Rivlin said that Israel would do all it could to continue to assist to treat the wounded who come to Israel's border, and ensured the government would do its part to cover the costs.

The army released an unusual statement on Sunday, detailing assistance it provided to seven Syrians who had been wounded in the civil war taking place over Israel's border.

According to the statement, one man, four women and two children had been taken to hospitals for medical care last Thursday after sustaining shrapnel injuries. One child and his mother had been evacuated to the hospital by helicopter.

Wounded Syrians on the Israeli side of the border, April 6, 2017.Credit: IDF spokesperson

Lt. Col. Omri Caspi, a medical operations officer in the Golan Heights, said that Israel Defense Forces soldiers had received reports of wounded arriving to the border.

“The moment we saw the nature of the incident, we saw that we were ultimately dealing with seven injured individuals who required urgent care," he said in a video released by the IDF Spokesperson's Unit. "As the injuries were very complicated, we decided to call in more teams we chose to use an Israel Air Force helicopter that helped us evacuate them and provide them with the best treatment."

The army’s announcement Sunday comes after criticism directed at Israel and other countries for not doing enough to help those wounded and affected by the neighboring civil war.

According to a recent statement by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, 26 million shekels ($7.1 million) of the IDF’s budget has been channeled into providing medical assistance to wounded Syrians. In addition to medical aid, Israel also provides humanitarian aid, distributing water, food and blankets, among other things.

Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon commented on the matter in the past. “It’s no secret that [the more moderate militias located on the border] enjoy the humanitarian assistance we provide to the residents of the villages in the area: medical treatment in our hospitals, baby food, winter gear and blankets,” he said in an interview with Haaretz.

According to Ya’alon, this was taking place “on the condition that they do not allow more extremist organizations to reach the border.”

According to army figures, more than 3,000 Syrians have been treated in Israel since 2013; around 300 were women and 600 were children. Usually, the wounded are evacuated to hospitals in Nahariya and to Ziv Medical Center in the northern city of Safed.

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