Assad Reconquest of South Draws Curtain on IDF Humanitarian Aid

View of the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, seen from the Israeli side of the border. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The IDF is closing down its humanitarian aid program for Syrian refugees in the wake of the Assad regime’s reconquest of the southwestern part of the country.

“The large and long-running humanitarian activity has come to an end with the return of the Syrian regime to southern Syria,” the army said in a statement on Thursday.

It acknowledged ongoing humanitarian concerns in the region, which borders Israel to the north on the Golan Heights, but said that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regain of control there precluded further Israeli activity.

Over 4,900 Syrians were brought into Israeli hospitals for medical treatment since 2013, including 1,300 children.

Another 7,000 people were treated in the day clinic on the border, known as Mazor Ladach, whose name means “relief for the suffering.”

In addition, over the course of five years, Israel transported into Syria 1,700 tons of food; 1.1 million liters of fuel; 26,000 cases of medical equipment and medication; 20 generators; 40 vehicles; 630 tents; 350 tons of clothing; 8,200 packages of diapers; and 49,000 cases of baby food.

Israeli officials often stressed the policy of neutrality in the civil war, and that IDF actions across the border were aimed strictly at intercepting arms shipments to Hezbollah and other threats to Israeli security.

However, Foreign Policy magazine reported last week that Israel supplied military aid to rebel groups in southern Syria over the years in exchange for their fighting to keep Iran-backed groups away from the Israeli border area.