Publsihed on: January 10, 2018
The war in Syria was sparked in March 2011 and quickly spiraled into a humanitarian crisis. In February of 2013, the first wounded Syrian came to the border asking for help and was then treated by the IDF. From then on, many more Syrians were accepted into Israel to receive medical care. As a result, a decision was made to establish a field hospital on the Syrian border to ensure efficient medical aid. This marked only the beginning of what would soon transform into Operation Good Neighbor, an official humanitarian mission.
Establishing Operation Good Neighbor
In July 2013, the 210th Division was established with the goal of securing Israel’s northern borders and to prepare for any escalated situation in the region. With the crisis in Syria worsening, and after many years of helping its neighbors, the IDF decided it needed to do more. As a result, the IDF launched Operation Good Neighbor in June 2016 with the 210th Division.
Operation Good Neighbor is exactly what it sounds like; it’s a humanitarian mission aimed at helping Israel’s Syrian neighbors by increasing aid to civilians while remaining uninvolved in the armed conflict.
Israel and Syria don’t maintain diplomatic relations with each other, making the IDF’s only obligation a moral one. “We must not forget, this operation is a moral stance taken by the State of Israel with regard to the situation of the Syrians across the border,” stated Lt. Col. A, Commander of Operation Good Neighbor.
The operation’s administration has identified the Syrian’s most crucial needs and has filled in those blanks. In 2017, Operation Good Neighbor made outstanding progress in providing Syrians in need with the basic supplies they lack in hopes of healing their physical and mental health wounds.
Providing Medical Care
Throughout Operation Good Neighbor, the IDF has assisted in the establishment of two medical centers in the region and a field clinic in an IDF post in the southern Golan Heights. This includes the Mazor Ladach field hospital that the American organization, Frontier Alliance International, donated, along with providing American doctors.
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.
“Take, for example, a Syrian mother who comes with her children. At the end of the day, she leaves the clinic with healthier children and an aid kit from the State of Israel that includes food, basic hygiene products, and medicine. A day at the clinic also includes time in the playroom and a hot meal. The Syrians also understand that the State of Israel is doing a great thing for them,” said Lt. Col. A.
In addition to medical assistance, in 2017 Operation Good Neighbor provided additional humanitarian aid including 694 tons of food, 14,138 boxes of baby formula, 6,351 diapers,174 tons of clothing, and 12,329 hygienic products.
Due to the damaged electrical infrastructure from the war, there’s no regular electricity in Syria, forcing civilians to use generators among other means. In 2017 alone, the IDF administered 13 electric generators along with 143,392 gallons of fuel to assist with cooking and heating homes. The war in Syria has also damaged many office buildings, homes, and education centers. In response, Operation Good Neighbor has provided Syria with mobile structures to be used in place of the damaged properties.
The IDF is happy to have accomplished a lot in this year, and hopes that next year it can do even more for the Syrians.