Israel Decides to Offer Medical Treatment to Syrian Children Wounded in Chemical Attack

Decision by the security cabinet reached despite defense chief's opposition; ministers see the move as symbolic, but of moral importance, which could also help Israel's image

A Syrian child receives treatment following a suspected toxic gas attack in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syrian Idlib province, on April 4, 2017.
MOHAMED AL-BAKOUR/AFP

Israel will offer to increase humanitarian aid to the victims of the civil war in Syrian, the security cabinet decided on Sunday.

Israel, which is currently offering medical treatment to wounded Syrians in the Golan Heights, will try to take in and treat children who were wounded in last week's chemical attack in Idlib Province in northern Syria, the ministers decided.

It was unclear at this time how the decision would be implemented, since Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman opposed it.

The proposal was put forward by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, who also holds the Intelligence and Atomic Energy portfolio. Katz's proposal won the support of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. Sources said that the ministers see the decision as symbolic, but also as having moral importance and as a step which could improve Israel's image abroad.

According to the proposal, the government will try and bring wounded Syrian children to Israel with Turkish help. It is unclear how many Syrian children Israel intends to take in for treatment.

Another proposal, by Interior Minister Arye Deri, that Israel would take in some 100 Syrian orphans who are currently in refugee camps and grant them a resident status was not discussed during the meeting.

On Thursday, the U.S. bombed an Assad regime military base in response to the chemical weapons attack launched on Syrian citizens, in which 90 people including 30 children were killed. The overnight missile attack, which marked the first time the U.S. has directly targeted Assad's forces, was condemned by his allies in Russia and Iran but welcomed by the  Syrian opposition and its supporters.

Israel "fully supports the American attack in Syria," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated at the opening of a cabinet meeting. According to Netanyahu, the U.S. struck in Syria "for moral reasons in light of the difficult images from Idlib and in order to make it clear that there is a price for the use of chemical weapons."

Netanyahu added that Syria has had an international obligation since 2013 to hand over all of its chemical weapons, but that this "has not yet been fully realized. We call on the international community to complete the process, and this is an opportunity for American-Russian cooperation.

"Israel treats wounded civilians from Syria as part of a humanitarian effort and will continue to do so," added Netanyahu.