IDF efforts to address the crisis in Syria

  • TOIDenouncingIsrael
By Saturday afternoon, it was already part of the scenery. Birds tweeting, dogs barking, kids playing, and the Russians and Syrians bombing.
by YAAKOV SELAVAN | Jul 12, 2018

Over the past 10 days, as we hear the non-stop explosions, more than 320 000 Syrians on the Syrian Golan Heights have become refugees; hundreds of people have been killed, including many children.

Hearing the world’s concern for the poor people of Gaza, and reading about If Not Now activists (an American Jewish progressive activist group opposing the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip) quitting the Birthright programme due to their worries about the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, I was sure I would hear a deep concern from Jewish and international human rights organisations, while we watch a bloody massacre just a mile away from Israel.

I guess I was naïve. The only effort made, and moral voice heard, was from the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) – sending in over 100 tons of food, clothes and medical aid for the new refugees, alongside 500 tents. Six wounded Syrians were taken in to Israel, including four children suffering horrible injuries and, worse, the loss of their parents. With these children, we have exceeded the number of 6 000 Syrian civilians treated in Israeli hospitals.

The Golan Heights border’s skyline has been changing dramatically, as every day more and more tents are built by refugees on the security fence. The people of Syria, who were taught for decades that we are the devil, are coming to our border, understanding we are the only ones they can trust.

Last week I had a rare opportunity to visit the headquarters of Operation Good Neighbor, the IDF unit established two years ago to handle the humanitarian crisis across the border in Syria. The trucks were loading constantly, soldiers running around, and I had a chance to speak with key figures of the operation.

Although I myself took part in this unique effort as an operations officer serving in the Golan, and although I have addressed hundreds of groups regarding these matters, nothing prepared me emotionally to hear the horrifying stories first hand.

Together with the tourists I was hosting as part of the Slingshot awareness programme, including a key figure in the Hollywood entertainment industry, we asked one of the operation’s officers to share with us the most emotional moments he has experienced.

“Four months ago, I had a night home, and I sat with my eight-year-old daughter, who is in second grade,” he began. “I asked her what she wanted to be when she grows up. ‘Daddy, I want to be a dancer,’ she said.”

A day later, he was called to the border and was taking care of a 12-year-old Syrian, who was brought into Israel for medical treatment. “I was trying different ice-breakers to make him feel comfortable, and so I asked him the same question: ‘What is your dream when you grow up?’

“Sir, your question is not relevant. I do not have dreams since I won’t grow up. I have a year, maximum two, to live and then I will end up dying in the war.”

The absurdity of it cries out! While Russia is hosting the World Cup, the Russian army – alongside Syria and Iranian militias – are committing mass murder.

The residents of the Syrian Golan are mostly uninvolved in the war. They shy away from terror and focus on trying to live a normal life. Israel reaches out and offers them much-needed help. I ask myself why are we the only ones who care. Where are all the human rights organisations we’ve been hearing yelling about Gaza? Where is the famed Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)?

Well, maybe we should say a word about Gaza. Hamas was elected in democratic elections by the people of Gaza; they participate in terror acts against Israel; they squander billions of dollars in world aid to fund a terror infrastructure, while terrorising the Israelis living behind the internationally recognised border. And the best part – Israel’s acts of self-defence are constantly being condemned by the “deeply-concerned” human rights, caring international community. I would laugh if it was possible, but I am too busy choking from the smoke as once again, hundreds of acres of farmland and nature reserves are burned to the ground all around Gaza.

What is the message we are imparting, dear human rights organisations? Yes, JVP, the question is aimed at you too.

Choose terror – we will support you! Stay uninvolved – go to hell?

As Israel reaches out and does its best to protect the innocent victims while managing to keep out of the bloody civil war without taking sides, it is time to call upon world Jewry to stand up and demand a humanitarian solution for the people of Daraa and Quneitra!

Darfur attracted worldwide attention at the beginning of the millennium, a lot of it thanks to the strong moral Jewish voice which was heard worldwide. It is time that world Jewry once again speaks out for those who are in need.

“For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples… And nations shall walk at thy light, and kings at the brightness of thy rising.” (Isaiah, 60:2-3) (Times of Israel)

  • Capt. (Res.) Yaakov Selavan is a strategic affairs expert and IDF motivational speaker for soldiers and draftees. A Golan resident and an IDF Tactical Command College alumnus, Selavan is an experienced lecturer in Israel and abroad. Following a decade of service as an Armored Corps Combat Commander, he founded Slingshot Israel, which aims to educate and inspire by offering a unique insider’s look into the IDF.


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