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Israel’s military on Tuesday transferred aid and care packages donated by residents of the Golan Heights to Syrians displaced by fighting on the other side of border, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit announced Wednesday.
Called Operation Good Neighbor, the food and medical supplies were transferred in two military operations by the Bashan Division, and delivered to Syrians in camps in the northern and southern Syrian Golan Heights.
Over the past week, hundreds of care packages were donated from communities in the Golan Regional Council. The aid included personal gift bags containing toys, crayons, games, candies and notes from Israeli children living in the Golan.
“For six years, a cruel war that has claimed the lives of more than 500,000 people has been taking place in Syria, and the world remains quiet in the face of this horror. We, the residents of the Golan, look right over the fence and see the people fleeing from the killing fields together with their children, and clinging to the fence with Israel,” said Eli Malka, the head of the Golan Regional Council, who initiated the collection.
“We feel the moral obligation, in accordance with our values, to send humanitarian aid and as much as is possible to build a relationship of humanity with those who have always been our neighbors on the other side of the fence. The residents of the Golan have come together wholeheartedly to raise and collect supplies, and make personal gift bags for the Syrian children, to give them a moment of happiness in a great chaos,” he added.
The Syrian army, backed by Russian air strikes and Iranian Shiite militias and Hezbollah, has been pummeling the southwestern provinces of Deraa and Quneitra in an offensive aimed at recapturing the strategic rebel-held areas bordering Jordan and the Golan Heights. In recent days, rebels in Deraa handed over a swathe of territory along the border with Jordan to Damascus.
The United Nations fears that between 285,000 and 325,000 internally displaced Syrians have fled since the beginning of the current offensive. Some 189,000 have headed towards the border with Israel.
According to the IDF, the military has recently carried out 30 designated aid operations for Syrians displaced by fighting in the Golan Heights, transferring more than 130 tons of food, 12.5 tons of baby food, 75,700 liters of fuel to operate generators, 20 medical equipment units, 77 tons of clothing, 556 tents and 30 shadow nets.
Calling the operation “unique and exciting,” Lt.-Col. E, the commander of the Good Neighbor Operation, stated that those living in the Syrian Golan Heights have understood that Israel is not a country to fear.
“The Bashan Division is responsible for preserving the security of the residents of the State of Israel, and of the Golan Heights in particular, and through the Good Neighbor command it carries out the mission of defending them in partnership with the citizens (of the area). All of this was done for our neighbors on the other side of the fence, who have been educated to hate Israel and everything related to it, and in recent years have understood that the only country which has aided them was the same one they feared.”