Israeli doctors save Syrian lives

27 06 2013

injured-syrianIn critical condition with severe shrapnel injuries to their torso and limbs, bullet wounds from head to toe and open fractures — this is how Syrian patients arrive at Israeli hospitals in the north of the country. And they are all treated like any other patient.

“It’s our duty as a regional hospital, where we are located along the Lebanese border on one side and the Syrian border on the other side,” Dr. Amram Hadary, director of the trauma unit at Ziv Medical Center in Safed (Tsfat), says. “We cannot ignore that the Syrian conflict is happening behind our door. We cannot close our eyes, ears and hearts to what is happening there. It’s a catastrophe.”

The Israeli medical staff has no idea who the Syrian patients are. They could be civilians caught in cross-fire, part of the military or members of the rebel forces.

Hadary says: “We don’t know who we’re treating, armed or not armed, wearing uniform or not wearing uniform. Because of the critical condition in which many of them arrive, we don’t question who they are. It is irrelevant. They are patients and are treated with the best measures we have in the hospital. Everyone gets the same treatment.”

Shortly after the Syrian civil war erupted, the Israeli army set up a field hospital on the border to treat victims. The IDF grants special permission of entry to Israel for the critically injured, and escorts them to and from the hospital.

“Our policy is to help in humanitarian cases, and to that end we are operating a field hospital along the Syrian border,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in June. “In cases where there are badly wounded, we transfer them to Israeli hospitals.”

Whether the cooperation between the medical communities will influence the political situation remains to be seen.

“We’re saving lives, not with expectations for the future. We’re doing it because it’s our job,” says Hadary. “Let’s hope for peace and be realistic at the same time.”

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