Israel plans a new field hospital along the demarcation line with Syria to treat patients from the war-hit country, the military said Wednesday, while reporting an uptick in aid missions there.
The new field hospital would be located on the Syrian side of the fence but on the Israeli side of the demarcation line in the Golan Heights, which it occupied in 1967, Lieutenant Colonel Tomer Koler said.
The fence does not always follow the line precisely.
In addition, Israel’s military said it had been involved in operations to deliver humanitarian aid across the line, including hundreds of tonnes of food and clothing, as well as fuel and equipment such as generators.
There have been more than 110 such missions since August 2016, when a new push began.
The military has worked with aid groups on such missions, Koler said.
Israel has long treated war wounded from Syria as a gesture it hopes will soften attitudes toward the Jewish state on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
With the help of contacts with doctors in Syria, it recently expanded it to include those who are sick but unable to access proper treatment due to conditions in the country, Koler told journalists in a phone conference.
Israel has treated more than 3,000 war wounded from Syria since 2013, saying it does not ask questions about whether they are fighters or civilians, providing treatment only as it is needed.
About one-third of those treated have been women and children, according to Koler.
The new field hospital can treat some 50 people per day and will be operated by an international NGO, he said. He said he could not name the NGO nor say exactly where the field hospital will be located.
Koler said he hoped it would be operational in the next month.
Israel formerly had a field hospital in the area but closed it in 2016.
Koler said that because of the humanitarian efforts, he hopes “that they will see that we are good people on the other side.”
Asked if they were providing help to rebels, he stressed Israel’s military was not taking “any side in the war” and did not provide assistance to any specific organisation.
Israel has sought to avoid being dragged into the six-year conflict in neighbouring Syria, but has carried out air strikes to stop what it says were advanced arms deliveries to its enemy Hezbollah.
The Lebanese Shiite movement, with which Israel fought a war in 2006, is supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the conflict.
It has also carried out strikes in retaliation for spillover in fighting in the Golan when rockets or other projectiles have landed over the demarcation line.
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