It sounds odd, and Israel is likely completely unique in this regard, but the Jewish state has established a field hospital in service to the citizens of an enemy state involved in a war that Israel has nothing to do with.
It is already common knowledge that for the past year or so Israel has been taking in Syrians wounded in their own nation's ongoing civil war. Hundreds of Syrians have thus far been treated at hospitals across northern Israel.
But, before they reach those hospitals, all of these humanitarian cases pass through an Israeli army field hospital established in the Golan Heights for that purpose.
For months, the IDF shied away from revealing details about the field hospital. After all, it is situated on a hostile border where Israeli soldiers routinely come under attack. It would seem that now, with the story so widespread, the army sees no real reason for continued secrecy.
The official blog of the Israel Defense Forces last week ran a feature officially "unveiling" the field hospital to the public.
"Last year, the IDF set up a field hospital to treat wounded Syrian civilians near the northern border," the army reported, explaining that "regardless of the tense relations between Israel and Syria, who are still officially at war, IDF soldiers have continued to apply a core Jewish value: 'Whoever saves one life, saves the entire world.'"
The hospital is helping Syrians regardless of their background: civilians, Syrian army soldiers and rebel combatants all receive the same care and consideration.
"There has not been a single case in which an injured Syrian was denied medical treatment by the IDF or by a civilian hospital," said Colonel Tariff Bader, the Druze medical officer who commands the facility.
Many of the Syrians who reach the field hospital are in bad shape, and wouldn't survive the trip to a larger civilian hospital. Fortunately, the field hospital is equipped with surgery, orthopedics and radiology divisions, and can handle initial treatment in most cases. Patients are then transported to Israeli civilian hospitals for further treatment and recovery.
The field hospital is yet another piece of evidence proving that Israel is not the heartless and oppressive foe its detractors try to paint it as. "I am honored to do this work, both as a physician and a citizen of Israel," said Col. Bader. "It fills me with pride to accomplish this mission."
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