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Israeli Hospital Treats Wounded Syrians

  • Scott Bobb

Of the hundreds of thousands of Syrian casualties from Syria's three-year civil war, more than 700 wounded have been treated in neighboring Israel, despite the long-standing conflict between the two countries.

Three year-old Mariam from Syria has been at Nahariya Hospital for nearly a month.

"At six o'clock they shelled us with a bomb. The wounded were taken to the field hospital. And I saw my daughter was wounded in the head and her mother was crying. She is at the hospital since February 19th," said her father, Ahmed.

The bomb killed Mariam's twin brother, another innocent victim of the war that has killed 130,000 people. Her father managed to get his daughter into Israel. Mariam was not expected to live.

The 600-bed hospital, a few kilometers from the border with Lebanon, has treated more than 200 wounded Syrians, including 70 women and children. Doctor Jean Soustiel said the experience is especially traumatic for those who arrive unconscious.

"When they are first opening their eyes they have to deal with a situation which is quite threatening for them, if you think about it. The first language that they are hearing is the Hebrew language of their old enemy," said Soustiel.

More than 700 Syrian wounded have been treated in Israel, according to the government, many at a military field hospital in the Golan Heights near the Syrian border. When they are better they return to Syria or go to a refugee camp in Jordan.

Doctor Tsvi Sheleg said hospital staff treat Syrians with the same dedication as any other patient.

"We don't care where he's from, what he's done, where he's going. He's a patient. He's wounded. He needs help. That's our mission. That's our goal. That's what we do for a living. That's what we do for our heart," said Sheleg.

Director Masad Barhoum acknowledges Israel's role is minor compared to the humanitarian efforts of Syria's other neighbors.

"It is a drop in the ocean. But it is important for even one person that we relieve his pain or we save his life," said Barhoum.

Staff here said the doctors in Syria are doing heroic work, but desperately need more help from the world community.

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