Australia ends direct aid to PA over payments to terrorists
Australia has ended direct aid to the Palestinian Authority over fears its donations will be used to pay Palestinians convicted of terrorism and their families.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Monday that funding to a World Bank trust fund was cut after she wrote to the Palestinian Authority in late May seeking assurance that Australian funding was not being misspent.
In a statement, Bishop expressed concern that providing further aid would allow the PA to use the funds for activities that “Australia would never support.”
Israel has long accused the PA and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, of encouraging terror attacks against Israelis by rewarding perpetrators and their families with monthly stipends. It has even withheld millions in tax revenues over the Palestinians’ unwillingness to change its policy. Israeli lawmakers are also advancing a law to slash funds to the PA by the same amount it uses to pay terrorists.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 27, 2018. (Alaa Badarneh/Pool Photo via AP)
“Any assistance provided by the Palestine Liberation Organization to those convicted of politically motivated violence is an affront to Australian values, and undermines the prospect of meaningful peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” Bishop said in a statement.
“I wrote to the Palestinian Authority on May 29, to seek clear assurance that Australian funding is not being used to assist Palestinians convicted of politically motivated violence,” she wrote.
Israeli officials barred a Jewish pro-Palestinian activist from entering the country late Sunday and began proceedings to deport her over her support for a boycott of the country.
Ariel Gold said that she had arranged her visit ahead of time with Israeli authorities, in line with a demand by Jerusalem after her last visit to the country, but was being deported anyway after landing at Ben-Gurion International Airport.
Gold is the national co-director of US left-wing activist group Code Pink and an advocate of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks to isolate Israel internationally.
“I am in the Tel Aviv airport getting deported. I got a visa in advance to enter the country buy they are refusing to honor it and are deporting me now,” she wrote on Facebook early Monday.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who petitioned Interior Minister Aryeh Deri to have her visa canceled, said she had been denied entry because of her support for the BDS movement.
“Whoever acts for a boycott of Israel and comes here to cause damage, will not enter the country,” he wrote on Twitter. (h/t Yenta Press)
The PA has turned the Palestinian mother of five murderers of Israelis into a role model. Last month Islam Abu Hmeid murdered an Israeli soldier and joined his 4 brothers who are serving multiple life sentences in prison
After the latest murder, PA officials honored the mother with visits, praising her as “a crown on all of our heads” and a “fighter” from whom “we draw our determination and our strength.”
The cumulative payments from the PA to the sons and mother of this terrorist family through May 2018 amount to $1,007,611 (3,493,800 shekels).
In May 2018 alone, the PA paid the family $9,920 (34,400 shekels)
PA Chairman Abbas has met with and endorsed the mother as role model twice in the past year.
In 2011, the PA chose the terrorists’ mother to lead the PA’s campaign for statehood at the UN.
The world seems to give a pass to Palestinian terrorism. Is it sympathy for the downtrodden, or is Jewish blood cheap? The international community fetes the Palestinian Authority and its leadership with no apparent awareness that the PA itself directly pays for terrorism against Israel.
When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu locked arms with European leaders such as François Hollande and Angela Merkel, and with PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the Charlie Hebdo march in 2015, did the world leaders know that two years earlier Abbas had signed an executive order granting additional salaries and benefits to Palestinians in jail for attacking Israelis – amounts scaled based on the severity of the crime, and which included bonuses for terrorists who were Israeli Arabs or Jerusalem residents, as well as lifetime pensions to women for two-year prison terms?
PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki proudly declared that full admission to Interpol was a reflection of “Palestine’s ability to enforce the law.” Does Interpol know that the PA rewards indiscriminate civilian attacks against Israel through a legal and bureaucratic infrastructure with 550 full-time employees?
Do the 136 UN member states that have recognized the “State of Palestine” know that the PA in 2017 rewarded 36,000 families with monthly payments totaling $360 million for participation in violence against Israel, while allocating only $210m. in welfare for 120,000 families?
Did Prince William, who joined Abbas after visiting Yad Vashem, realize that Abbas’s website features numerous photos of released terrorists and martyrs’ families being greeted and celebrated at the presidential compound, and offers downloads of Abbas’s book that claims Zionists intentionally cooperated with Nazi Germany and that British colonialism created Zionism to serve its colonial plots?
Two years ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered that the amount of money being transferred by the Palestinian Authority to terrorists and their families be deducted immediately from the taxes and tariffs Israel collects for the authority.
“The Palestinian Authority transfers funds to terrorists by various laundering methods,” Netanyahu said, according to an English press release on the Prime Minister’s Office website. “The more severe the acts of terrorism, the greater the amount of funds. Prime Minister Netanyahu has ordered that the entire amount of support for terrorists and their families be deducted from the tax revenues that Israel transfers monthly to the Palestinian Authority. Israel believes that the encouragement of terrorism by the Palestinian leadership – in the form of both incitement and payments to terrorists and their families – constitutes incentive for murder.”
After Netanyahu took no such step, Knesset members from both the coalition and opposition, acting in rare unison, authored legislation requiring by law exactly what the prime minister had ordered. Throughout the legislative process, Netanyahu spoke in favor of the bill. But behind the scenes, he worked to undermine it by insisting on amendments that would at best water it down and at worst render it meaningless.
There were attempts to allow the government to decide each year how much the deduction should be – or whether to make the deduction at all – based on diplomatic and other considerations. Netanyahu repeatedly sent coalition chairmen David Bitan and David Amsalem to ask for delays and revisions.
Had Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett not stood up to Netanyahu, the bill would not be coming to a final vote in the Knesset on Monday evening. Amsalem asked for a final revision last week. It would have been a much more serious change had Netanyahu gotten his way.
Israelis have little hope that a peace proposal expected to be unveiled soon by US President Donald Trump’s administration will succeed, according to a public opinion poll released Monday.
The survey by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University indicated that nearly three-quarters of respondents think the plan has a very low or moderately low chance of success. The survey did not ask respondents why they think so.
The skepticism comes despite warm feelings for Trump by both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli public.
The poll found that 77 percent of respondents think Israel’s interests are important to Trump and more than 60% think the Palestinians’ interests are not important to him.
Shortly after taking office, Trump dispatched his Mideast team to the region in a bid to forge what he has called the “ultimate” deal between Israel and the Palestinians. The US administration has said it will present its vision for peace soon.
Many in Israel, myself included, have thought in the past that any change in Arab-Israeli relations was inextricably linked to progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The same was assumed in the early 1990s, when many believed that King Hussein of Jordan would never sign a peace agreement with Israel before a similar deal was reached with the PA and Syria. But at a certain point, Hussein decided that his kingdom’s interests were more important and, to his critics’ chagrin, he did the unbelievable and signed a peace deal with Israel in 1994.
Arab leaders are slowly walking down the same path. Saudi Arabia already allows Israeli planes to cross its airspace and Sudan is inclined to do the same. The Jordanian king met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Amman last week, and defense ties between Jerusalem and Cairo grow stronger by the day.
The current Arab interest is to join forces against Iran, which is rightly perceived as an existential threat to the regimes and states in much of the Arab world.
Another interest is the need to promote Arab economies, which are burdened by recurring domestic issues that threaten to plunge them into chaos and leave them at the mercy of radical Islam. Achieving this goal and avoiding this threat entails promoting an Israeli-Palestinian settlement and it seems the Arab leaders are determined not to let the Palestinians sabotage their efforts, as they have in the past.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has rejected an invitation by senior White House adviser Jared Kushner to participate in a peace summit led by moderate Arab states, the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat reported this weekend.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates were said to have agreed to participate in the summit that, according to the report, has been deemed by the PA as an American ploy to drag them into what US President Donald Trump has dubbed “the deal of the century.”
Arab and Western diplomats have reportedly relayed the Palestinians’ concerns over the “ambiguous” US plan which, according to reports, outlines the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank without defining clear borders, without recognizing eastern Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, without providing a solution for Palestinian refugees and failing to resolve the issue of Israeli settlements.
According to the report, the Palestinians are concerned about support that moderate Arab countries appear to be displaying for this plan.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is making renewed efforts to form a national unity government with the Hamas terrorist group with the aim of calling long-overdue Palestinian national elections, the Arabic-language Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported Monday.
Sources told the London-based daily the maneuver is intended to prevent the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip from being isolated from the West Bank as part of the Trump administration’s peace plan, details of which have not yet been published.
According to the report, the Abbas government is convinced the US plan envisions creating a separate state in the Gaza Strip while expanding Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank.
Abbas intends to appoint former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad to lead the new unity government. The PA leader recently met with Fayyad and they discussed the matter for over two hours, the sources said.
The Palestinians consider statements such as “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel” and “Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people” as a form of “incitement,” according to a report released on Sunday by the PLO Department of Culture and Information.
The report comes in the context of Palestinian attempts to counter Israeli allegations of anti-Israel incitement in the Palestinian media, school textbooks, mosque sermons and public statements by Palestinian officials. In the past two decades, dozens of reports documenting Palestinian incitement against Israel and glorification of terrorists have been published by various Israeli and Jewish organizations in a move that has seriously embarrassed PA leaders and drawn criticism from some Western donors.
The PLO report – which cites statements made by a number of Israeli officials and politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – also considers calls for combating the fire kites launched toward Israel from the Gaza Strip as “incitement.”
It claims that “derogatory and inflammatory comments and incitement by Israeli government officials and leaders are specifically meant to distort reality and mislead public opinion.”
However, the report intentionally ignores statements made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and senior Palestinian officials to the effect that “Jerusalem is and will remain the eternal capital of Palestine.” In addition, PA media outlets, including the official television and radio stations, refer to Jerusalem as the “occupied capital of Palestine.”
Suddenly, everyone feels sorry for Gaza. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman – who just a month ago said, “Enough with all the delusions and illusions that improving the economic situation will put an end to terror” – is doing the exact opposite by striking a deal with Cyprus to build a seaport there for Gazans.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that “Israel will continue searching for ways to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza.” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz has been invited to the White House to close a deal with Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt to develop Gaza’s offshore natural gas reservoir and find “solutions that will ease the humanitarian situation, including the supply of electricity and water.”
Everyone else aside, these are U.S. President Donald Trump’s special envoys, whose few public statements seem to focus on Gaza. “What’s happening in Gaza is very sad. The humanitarian situation there began way before President Trump began his term in office, but we still have to do what we can to improve it,” Kushner said two weeks ago in an interview to the Arab newspaper Al-Quds. Greenblatt mainly uses Twitter to note the crisis in Gaza, although he does so while pointing an accusatory finger at Hamas.
However, herein is the crux of the matter. As long as Hamas controls Gaza, its belligerence toward Israel won’t decline even if the economy there unexpectedly booms. There are sufficient historical examples, from the disengagement to the days following Operation Protective Edge, to illustrate this. The idea that improving living conditions in Gaza will reduce Gazans’ hostility toward Israel is just an illusion. Those who disagree need only look east.
Israel and Hamas have been holding indirect negotiations to end the crisis in the Gaza Strip, a Qatari diplomat told Chinese news agency Xinhua on Sunday.
”The U.S. administration knows about the talks,” Head of Qatar’s Gaza Reconstruction Committee Mohammed al-Emadi said.
Al-Emadi, who is currently visiting the coastal enclave said no deal has been reached at this time but negotiations were still ongoing to reach a comprehensive agreement that will improve the situation in Gaza, which is facing a humanitarian crisis.
Gaza has been under a tight Israeli and Egyptian blockade since 2007, when the Islamic terrorist group seized control of the enclave in a military coup. The measure has proved necessary to prevent the smuggling of weapons and terrorists into the area.
According to the report, the Qatari envoy said the U.S. has recently proposed several projects for Gaza to provide basic services such as electricity, desalination of drinking water and the rehabilitation of the industrial zone in Gaza, where unemployment nears 50%.
Thank you, Mr. President. We have heard today a lot of crocodile tears from UN Member states and entities, and from NGOs regarding the US pull-out from the Council. Those who are upset about the US actions, have only themselves to blame.
As everyone in this room is well-aware, this discriminatory Item 7 was a leading driver of the US withdrawal. Everyone in this room is also well-aware that a similar item on the agenda of the Commission for Human Rights brought that institution down and led to the creation of this Council. Item 7 should have never been included on the Council’s agenda.
Since the Council’s founding in 2006, the US, Israel, and too few other countries, urged reform of the Council agenda in support of the values of universality, objectivity, impartiality, and non-selectivity, values upon which the UN Charter and this Council were founded. But rule of the mob prevailed; responsible countries did nothing, and the international NGOs that supposedly champion universal human rights, sided with the regressive forces that dominate this Council.
Mr. President, the members of this Council and OHCHR have a choice. They can continue down their current path of double standards, discrimination, and bias, and face the irrelevance, funding cuts, strikes, and boycotts that occur as a result. Or they can choose to implement the Council’s founding values – universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity – in order to create an institution in which all countries are proud to serve.
Which path will they choose?
Unholy Alliance: 1 of the reasons certain NGOs need the UN and its Human Rights Council is because they utterly failed to convince any democracy to embrace their anti-Western & anti-capitalist platform and instead rely on the votes of murderous dictators to enact it for them.
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) July 1, 2018
Senior Zionist Union lawmakers on Sunday lambasted fellow party member MK Ksenia Svetlova, who, together with MKs Michal Rozen (Meretz), Ayman Odeh and Dov Khenin (Joint Arab List) organized the Children Under Occupation conference slated to take place at the Knesset on Monday.
One senior Zionist Union MK remarked Sunday that “we very much oppose holding this conference at the Knesset. To my regret, MK Svetlova didn’t coordinate the decision to organize this conference with the faction nor did she ask for the faction’s support.”
“In our view,” the lawmaker continued, “it is inappropriate for an MK from our faction to join up with MKs from the Joint Arab List and Meretz and initiate such an event, addressing various aspects in the lives of children under the Israeli occupation: poverty, restricted movement, shortage of power, water and education as well as child detentions, discriminatory legislation that hinders family reunification and the effects of the Gaza blockade.”
Knesset sources noted that the MKs who initiated the conference chose to break with protocol by failing to request approval for the event from Knesset management. The organizers tried to obscure the true nature of the event by requesting a ‘gathering’ titled ‘education under the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,’ the sources said.
The official request to convene the conference was submitted by MK Svetlova.
The Knesset’s Ethics Committee turned down a request to allow Joint Arab List MK Yousef Jabareen to travel abroad on a speaking tour funded by an anti-Israel organization which boycotts Israel and which appears on the Ministry of Strategic Affairs’ list of BDS-associated organizations.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit asked the Ministry of Strategic Affairs to investigate the request and submit a recommendation. As a result of the Ministry’s recommendation, the Ethics Committee decided not to approve Jabareen’s request.
The French AFPS organization, which would have funded the proposed trip, admits to working with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement within France, as well as in Europe and around the world.
An investigation by Arutz Sheva revealed that one of AFPS’ goals for 2017-2018 is to continue calling for boycott of Israel, as well as of specific companies located in Judea and Samaria. Another of AFPS’ goals is to pressure France’s Foreign Minister into harming his country’s diplomatic relations with Israel.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) told Arutz Sheva that the Knesset had approved similar travel requests in the past, but are currently being examined.
A Lavi organization freedom of information request revealed that — apart from letting hundreds of trucks a week into the Gaza Strip, whose goods are inspected in Ashdod harbor — since the 2014 Gaza war there has been more than a tenfold jump in the entry of goods from Gaza to Israel.
The number of trucks that passed from Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing into the State of Israel in 2014 was 232, and this number jumped to 1,461 in 2015 and 2,680 in 2017. The first half of 2018 has already seen 1,728 trucks entering Israel from Gaza.
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) responded to Lavi’s inquiry saying there is no restriction on the identity of those wishing to bring goods into Israel, and that it is entirely possible that Gazan terrorist organizations are carrying out trade with Israeli citizens.
The Lavi organization requested the names of the merchants who are authorized to import goods from Gaza into the State of Israel, to which COGAT replied that they did not possess such information
“There is no list of authorized merchants, since, generally speaking, there is no restriction on those wishing to trade [with Gaza],” COGAT noted.
The Lavi organization, which disclosed the data, said in response that they are calling on Defense Minister Liberman to order a halt on exports from Gaza to the State of Israel.
Israeli troops opened fire at four Palestinians who breached the southern Gaza security fence and set fire to an empty Israel Defense Forces post on Monday, killing one of them, the army said.
According to the military, the four Palestinian youths broke through the fence east of Rafah in the southern Strip and set fire to a sniper’s nest near the border.
“IDF troops spotted the infiltration and monitored the incident. The troops chased after the terrorists, during which time they opened fire at them,” the army said.
“As a result of the gunfire, one terrorist was killed, another was critically injured and was taken for medical treatment, and one was handed over to security forces for interrogation,” the IDF said in a statement.
The critically wounded Palestinian suspect was evacuated to Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center in an IDF helicopter, the army said.
Analysts have been discussing the latest weapon employed by young Palestinian protesters against Israel: multiple burning kites that they release from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. The kites have already caused significant damage to agricultural fields and natural reserves, which have been consumed in a number of fires.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has described the burning kites set off from the enclave as “the real nightmare that must be treated.” To that end, Israel has recently developed a new technology to fight the new tactic, using a laser system to take out the kites before they can land in Israeli territory.
Hazem Qasem, a Hamas spokesperson in Gaza, told The Media Line that the humanitarian situation in the enclave has led to the weaponization of a child’s toy carrying a lethal payload. “It’s the unprecedented situation that cannot be tolerated,” he stressed.
He explained that Gaza suffers from a lack of drinking water, electricity, and jobs. “These kites are a public tool, spontaneously set off by the residents of Gaza, to peacefully [sic] protest their plight.”
Qasem added that the “Israeli government is embarrassed” because it has failed to deal with the “Return Marches,” resorting to the use of excessive force against young protestors.
Hamas sends Gaza’s civilian youth to participate in “March of Return” protests on the Israeli border and abandons them after they are wounded in the ensuing violence, Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Brig. Gen. (res.) Kamil Abu Rokon contended Sunday.
Rokon shared a viral video featuring an angry Gaza man criticizing Hamas for neglecting to provide appropriate medical treatment for a foot injury he sustained in a protest nearly two months ago.
“It’s a busted leg, do you see?” the young Gaza man says in the video. “Over 50 days and the wound hasn’t healed. I’ve never had an injury like this.”
According to the man, who displays his wounded foot in the video, every time he has seen a doctor he was told everything is fine. The man goes on to complain about the dearth of hospitals in Rafah, a city he says has been marginalized.
In the video, the Gaza man censures the Hamas leadership, accusing them of abandoning the very people they put at risk by sending them to the border to protest against Israel.
“I don’t want money. I want them [Hamas] to take care of the wounded,” he says in the video.
After the failed coup against Erdogan in July 2016 — when two Turkish military jets reportedly attempted to down the plane transporting him home from vacation — the government became suspicious of its air force and fired several F-16 pilots. This move severely limited Turkey’s air-defense capability; hence, the S-400 deal with Russia. However, according to Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hami Aksoy, “The system we are buying from Russia cannot be integrated into NATO systems.” In other words, as Turkey needs a missile-defense system that can be integrated with the NATO’s — and as NATO will not allow integration of the Russian S-400, for the same reason that it opposed Ankara’s deal over China’s FD-2000 — Ankara turned to Europe.
Beyond that, a deal with EUROSAM would allow Turkey to make the sovereign decision of whether it wishes to integrate the missile-defense system with that of NATO, and would also allow for a joint production of the system — something that Ankara considers imperative.
Furthermore, and perhaps of equal, if not greater, importance, by signing the EUROSAM deal, Turkey is probably trying to persuade NATO that the decision to purchase Russian S-400s was merely a technological and budgetary one, not an indication that Turkey is opposed to NATO weapon systems. This may be its way of preventing its deal with Russia from becoming an obstacle in its path to procuring American F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (JSF), which the U.S. is refusing to provide it, due to its purchase of the S-400s. This goes back to America’s apprehension that if Turkey uses the S-400s along with the F-35s, Russia could gain access to information about the aircraft’s sensitive technology.
If Turkey is playing a double game with NATO, let us hope that the United States does not fall prey to it.
Turkish police violently clashed with the LGBT crowd on Sunday in Istanbul, using plastic bullets and tear gas to break up the marchers, according to international media reports.
Activists for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights were gathering in small groups for Pride events instead of the annual pride march which had been banned by the city’s governor for the fourth consecutive year.
The march used to see tens of thousands of people parade down Istanbul’s main Istiklal street, but Sunday’s rally drew a much smaller crowd.
“For the fourth year in a row, Turkish authorities have banned Istanbul Pride. The last time (2014) it went ahead seems like a lifetime ago,” one person tweeted.
For the fourth year in a row, Turkish authorities have banned Istanbul Pride. The last time (2014) it went ahead seems like a lifetime ago. Photo via @HDNER pic.twitter.com/QNspIOWzLx
— Piotr Zalewski (@p_zalewski) June 30, 2018
Just a few hundred people gathered on one of Beyoglu district’s side streets, waving rainbow flags and shouting slogans.
The number of people forced to flee their homes in southwestern Syria as a result of the two week escalation in fighting has climbed to 270,000 people, the U.N. refugee spokesman in Jordan said.
The United Nations said last week 160,000 had been displaced as they fled heavy bombardment and mostly took shelter in villages and areas near the Israeli and Jordanian borders.
“Our latest update shows the figure of displaced across southern Syria has exceeded 270,000 people,” Mohammad Hawari, UNHCR’s Jordan spokesman told Reuters.
The United Nations has warned of a humanitarian catastrophe in the southwest caused by the fighting that erupted after a Russian-backed army offensive to recapture rebel-held southern Syria.
Jordan, which has taken in more than half a million displaced Syrians since the war began, and Israel have said they will not open their borders to refugees.
Seven Syrians wounded in the battles currently raging in the country’s southwest, among them five children, have received emergency medical treatment in Israeli hospitals in recent days.
Two children, aged 6 and 7, were hospitalized in critical condition due to shrapnel wounds at Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya in northern Israel. A badly wounded 14-year-old boy was in stable condition, and two adult men, 19 and 28, were also in critical but stable condition.
The 7-year-old girl, suffering extensive upper body injuries, was hospitalized in critical condition at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.
At Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, in central Israel, doctors were fighting to save the life of a 10-year-old girl with multiple organ failure. The girl was hospitalized last Wednesday, June 27, and is still in critical condition.
“The wounds are characteristic of shrapnel injuries to the brain, chest, stomach and limbs,” said Dr. Masad Barhoum, director of the Galilee Medical Center.
“The medical teams are working around the clock to save the children’s lives,” he said.
An American family celebrating their daughter’s Bat Mitzvah at a private event on the Golan Height last week, played an integral role in saving the life of a critically injured Syrian girl.
Professor Yitshak Kreiss, Director General of Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, was on his way to the Golan Heights last Thursday to participate in the celebration when he received an urgent phone call from the IDF informing him about a severely wounded 10-year-old Syrian girl, who was the victim of an aerial bombing raid by the Syrian Air Force in the embattled Deraa region in southwest Syria. The girl’s sister was killed in the raid, while her brother was also injured and taken to another medical facility somewhere in Syria.
The injured, unconscious girl and her mother were driven to the border with Israel, where an IDF medical team quickly performed an operation to stabilize her. The girl’s multiple injuries were life threatening and she needed to be immediately airlifted to Sheba Medical Center.
Kreiss is a former brigadier general who prior to assuming his position at Sheba served as the IDF’s Surgeon General, was directly responsible for setting up the Israeli military field hospital along the Syrian border. He left the Bat Mitzvah celebration for a nearby airfield on the Golan Heights where a helicopter from the Air Force’s elite 669 Combat Search & Rescue Unit was summoned to fly the Syrian girl and her mother to Sheba. Kreiss checked the girl’s condition in an IDF ambulance before she was placed on the helicopter and alerted Sheba’s Emergency Room staff in the Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital about her pending arrival.
Hospital director Dr. Masad Barhoum said the patients were three children, ages 6, 7 and 14, and two adults, ages 19 and 28 — all of whom had suffered serious or critical injuries.
Naama Shahar — the head nurse of the hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit — said, “We are, first of all, human beings. Most of us are mothers or fathers, and when we see these cases, our hearts simply break. We treat them and we cry. The sights are very tough, these are war wounds, and despite all our strength, we take it home with us.”
“With children like this who have suffered so much, there is no thought of them as the ‘enemy,’ we take care of them as if they were from our people, and we give them the best treatment, with everything that includes,” she added.
According to Barhoum, around 2,500 wounded Syrians have been treated at the Galilee Medical Center over the past five years.
Israeli authorities in the Golan Heights have launched a campaign urging local residents to donate toys, games, and clothes to displaced Syrians near the northern border who fled bombardment by Syrian government forces.
On Friday, the Israeli military announced it had provided several tons of humanitarian aid to southwestern Syria, but would not be accepting the tens of thousands of refugees from the area who had begun streaming toward the Israeli border.
The operation lasted “several hours,” the army said, and some 300 tents, 13 tons of food, 15 tons of baby food, three pallets of medical supplies, and 30 tons of clothes and shoes were delivered to the refugees.
“The refugees arrived with no basic equipment for dignified living,” Eli Malka, head of the Golan Regional Council, said in a statement on Sunday night. “Alongside the IDF’s humanitarian activities in recent days, I have ordered the opening of a center for collecting supplementary equipment, to let the refugees live in a humane way.”
Malka said the collection will take place in the coming days in the various Golan Heights communities, after which the items will be transferred to the military and eventually to the Syrians.
Tractors load humanitarian supplies from the IDF being sent to Syrian refugees in tent encampments in southwestern Syria, on June 28, 2018 on the Golan Heights. (Israel Defense Forces)
“We would be glad for every family to prepare a sealed bag for a Syrian child with small games and toys, drawing paper, crayons and non-melting candy, to give them a moment of sweet, innocent joy,” Malka said.
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