Israeli residents of the Golan have in recent days transferred hundreds of packages of clothing, food, medicine, and other supplies to the Syrian side of the border, it was released for publication Wednesday. Residents dropped off aid packages at donation centers over the past week, and businesses in the area also donated. The effort was coordinated by the Israeli “Good Neighbor” organization, part of the IDF’s Bashan unit.
The operation saw a total of 12.5 tons of assistance transferred to the Syrian side of the Golan border. This is the 30th time Israel has transferred large amounts of assistance to Syrian refugees on the other side of the Golan border. So far, Israel has transferred over 75,000 liters of heating oil, 20 portable hospitals, 77 tons of clothing, 556 tents, 30 shade pergolas, 12.5 tons of baby food, and 30 tons of food.
According to the organization, the operation was “unique and very moving. The Bashan unit works to ensure the security of Israelis, especially residents of the Golan, and the ‘Good Neighbor’ program works with citizens. All this is done on behalf of the residents of the other side of the border, who for years have been educated to hate Israelis and everything it stands for – despite the fact that in recent years Israel has been the only country that has helped them.”
In recent days, the Syrian Army has gone on a major offensive against Syrian rebel groups in the south of the country. Israeli officials quoted in media outlets said that they expected the Syrian forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad to continue its campaign until it completely routs rebel groups – including asserting control over the Syrian side of the Golan. Assad’s army is being helped in this effort by Hezbollah and Iranian forces, which according to foreign reports Israel has attacked from time to time.
Among the effects of the Assad offensive is the rush of refugees to the Golan, with some 200,000 Syrians said to be ensconced on the Syrian side of the border. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman reiterated Tuesday that Israel was prepared to provide as much assistance as needed to the refugees, but could not admit any of them to Israel. In addition, he demanded that Syrian troops remain outside of the neutral zone between Israel and Syria on the Golan. “Any Syrian soldier who will enter that area is taking his life into his hands,” Liberman said.