More than 500 Syrians wounded in the conflict raging across the country were treated in Israel during 2013. Around 40 per cent were treated in a field hospital erected on the Israeli side of the border with Syria especially for this purpose, the Israel Defence Forces have revealed. According to a report on the IDF website, many of the wounded were then transferred to Israeli hospitals in Safad and Haifa by helicopter.
The army established the field hospital in February last year, when seven wounded Syrians crossed the border. Consequently, a decision was made for the IDF medical corps and civilian health professionals to work collaboratively on treating Syrian refugees.
Medical aid in Syria at the moment is very poor, said Israeli medical corps commander Brigadier-Colonel Tarif Bader. "For the Syrians, the time between being wounded and being offered medical treatment ranged from minutes to hours." He added that the IDF sometimes received letters, in Arabic, describing the condition of the wounded and the medical procedures they needed.
The Chief Medical Officer of the IDF said that this is the first time that a conflict has created such a moral crisis for the corps. "We were asked not to send a medical team to some disaster zone far away, but to the borders of a hostile country," Brigadier-General Itzik Kreis pointed out.
Those Syrians who were able to be moved were sent to civilian hospitals in Israel after their initial treatment at the field hospital. Twenty doctors with a range of specialities staff the border facility, including surgeons; they are supported by army nurses.