JERUSALEM – The Jerusalem Post summed up the relationship between Israel and Syria saying “Jerusalem and Damascus have never had diplomatic relations and have been officially at war since Israel was established in 1948. In 1967 Israel took control of the 1,200 square kilometers of the Golan Heights from Syria during the Six Day War and unilaterally annexed the area in 1981.”
The world is pretty much aware of this. The world is also pretty much aware of the fact that more than six million Syrian people have been displaced from their homes since the beginning of the Syrian civil began seven years ago.
What the world knows little, if anything, about is Operation Good Neighbor, a humanitarian aid campaign conducted on a regular basis by the Israeli Defense Forces to aid displaced Syrians near the Israeli border near the Golan Heights. In fact, the Operation Good Neighbor missions are carried out on a weekly basis.
The most recent Operation Good Neighbor took place during the evening of 28 June 2018. The IDF delivered nearly 60 tons of aid to 120,000 new displaced Syrians who have fled to the southernmost part of the country near the Israeli border. The IDF transferred 30 tons of clothing and shoes, 13 tons of food, 15 tons of baby food, medical equipment and supplies, and tents to refugees in four different camps with little or no access to basic necessities like food, water, and electricity.
The concept of Operation Good Neighbor began in 2013 with the placement of field hospitals that were used to treat more than 3,000 people that year alone. That year 600 ailing Syrian children, along with their mothers were brought into Israel where they could receive much-needed medical treatment. The IDF also facilitated the construction of two clinics on the Syrian side of the border during 2013. Those clinics are operated by NGOs.
The actual, structured Operation Good Neighbor began in 2016. “In 2017, the IDF supplied 2,124 containers of medicine and 400 medical devices, which helped the 685 Syrian children who received medical care just in 2017 as a part of Operation Good Neighbor.” In 2017, Operation Good Neighbor, the IDF shipped hundreds of tons of flour, oil, sugar, canned beans, dry good, mules, and several cars.
IDF Major General Sergei Kotikov told the Jerusalem Post, “The Syrian war came to a point where people started showing up on our border looking for help. They had no trust in their government and could not rely on it – instead, turning to a country that for 50 years they were told was the enemy.” The general has personally participated in more than 50 of the weekly missions.
The materials for the refugees has been supplied by numbers of NGOs and the nation of Israel itself.
This operation is reminiscent of the story of the Good Samaritan whom Jesus described as a good neighbor when he stopped to help a man who was, for all intents and purposes his “enemy.” (See Luke 10:25-37)
- Y Net News, IDF sends humanitarian aid to Syria in overnight operation
- IDF website, Helping Syrians through Operation Good Neighbor
- Times of Israel, IDF sends aid to Syrians fleeing Daraa in overnight ‘Good Neighbor’ operation
- Sam Mugraby, Photos8.com [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons