Photo Credit: courtesy, IDF blog
IDF soldiers helping Syrian children who arrive with chaperones at Israel's northern border.

They arrive at the northern border early, sometimes before dawn, up to two dozen children at a time accompanied by their chaperones after having traveled all night. They are taken in at a certain village, getting as much as as possible before meeting Israeli soldiers.

So many of them are hurt. So many.

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WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES.

The goal of Operation Good Neighbor is to help the local population in Syria, says IDF Chief of General Staff, Lt.Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, while maintaining Israel’s policy of non-involvement in the conflict.

The project began more than four years ago when an injured Syrian came to the border asking for medical help from the IDF. Back then, there was no policy, just a commander’s on-the-spot decision to provide care to an injured civilian. Since then, the aid has continued on a near daily basis. In June 2016, as part of a decision to expand humanitarian aid efforts, the IDF Northern Command formally established the headquarters of Operation Good Neighbor.

Israel provides medical assistance, civilian aid (food, baby supplies and clothing) and infrastructure supplies (generators, fuel, water pipes, etc.)

The primary recipients of the aid are the approximately 200,000 residents of the Hauran region of southwestern Syria, according to the IDF. About 400 families live in tents near the Israel-Syria border, with the rest living in villages or out in the open. A third of those receiving aid are displaced persons or refugees. Half are under the age of 18.

“We have a moral imperative,” said an IDF spokesperson. “We can’t stand by watching a severe humanitarian crisis without helping the innocent people stuck in the middle of the conflict. We also believe that the aid will ultimately create a less hostile environment across the border – and that will lead to improved Israeli security.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.