- Title: On Israel's Syria front, aid turns into hearts-and-minds drive
- Date: 20th July 2017
- Summary: GOLAN HEIGHTS (FILE - JANUARY 2017) (REUTERS) (NIGHT SHOTS) ISRAELI SOLDIERS WALKING TOWARDS MILITARY AMBULANCE, DOOR OPENS VARIOUS OF SOLDIERS OUTSIDE AMBULANCE WITH MEN WOUNDED IN SYRIA WOUNDED ON STRETCHERS IN AMBULANCE SOLDIERS TENDING TO WOUNDED
- Embargoed: 3rd August 2017 21:43
- Keywords: Golan Heights Israel Syria Humanitarian crisis Mideast Crisis Syrian wounded
- Location: GOLAN HEIGHTS
- City: GOLAN HEIGHTS
- Country: Israel
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace
- Reuters ID: LVA0026QITHL3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: PART MUTE/VIDEO QUALITY AS INCOMING
Israel has shifted from low-key humanitarian aid for Syrian civil war victims into a hearts-and-minds campaign billed as fostering new friends across a frontier that has been hostile for decades.
Under a year-old expanded relief project disclosed to media this week, groups of Syrians have been admitted to Israel for routine medical treatment, while food, fuel and building supplies have been regularly shipped the other way.
Some 600 children with disabilities or diseases like cancer and diabetes have been brought in for treatment under the programme, dubbed Good Neighbour, on top of the roughly 3,000 war-wounded Syrians hospitalised since March 2013. Costs are borne by Israel. A half-dozen international NGOs provide donations and the staffing for two clinics over the armistice line. A hospital is planned nearby.
The scale of the assistance marks a big turn for Israel, which at first preferred to seal off Syria while providing only ad hoc hospitalisation for war casualties who made their own way to the Golan Heights which Israel captured from Syria in 1967 Middle East War and annexed in a move not recognised internationally.
The Israeli army says it pushed for more humanitarian intervention due to a sense of human duty. But another, more practical interest is that of stabilising the 70-km (40-mile)-long Syrian frontier, where Israel says a third of residents are displaced people from the interior, helps stave off any attempted refugee influx across the Golan fence.
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