Israel is expected to spend $32m (115m Shekels) on aid to Syria this year, according to a new report in Haaretz based on information obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request.
Most of that money comes from private and institutional donations while the remaining 20m Shekels comes from the army’s budget, the Israeli newspaper reported, adding that these figures do not account for the tens of millions being spent on medical aid for wounded Syrians.
"From August 2016 to June 2017, transfers to Syria included 92 pallets of drugs, incubators, ventilation machinery, two ambulances, 600 meters (1,970 feet) of pipes, seven generators, 100 tons of warm clothing, 363 tons of food and 1,800 packets of diapers,” Haaretz reported.
While Israel initially made sure that there would be no Hebrew on the supplies intended for Syria, which are picked up by Arab truckers in special loading zones adjacent to the border, the pretense was soon dropped due to the size of the shipments.
“At the end of the day this is help for people who are really suffering on a day-to-day basis,” one officer told Haaretz. “The Israeli aid is helping save lives every day.”
“It’s not a burden. This is a significant element in defending the border, and it has operational significance,” the report quoted IDF Brig. Gen. Yaniv Asor as saying.
In July, the IDF revealed that more than 200,000 Syrian civilians have benefited from Israeli aid sent over since last June. Dubbed “Operation Good Neighbor,” the ongoing effort has seen the transfer of hundreds of tons of supplies to the residents of towns and villages just over the Syrian-Israeli border since the beginning of the civil war in 2013.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the IDF has run over 110 separate aid operations since August alone, including the transfer of 360 tons of food, 100 tons of clothes, generators and other necessary supplies. More than 3,000 wounded Syrians, including anti-government fighters, have been treated by Israel over the past four years.
One IDF officer was quoted by the Post as saying that “once a week a busload of sick children comes into Israel.” Those who are treated are sent back with additional supplies.
"Israel is saving lives on a daily basis and we are working hard to improve the humanitarian situation on the ground. We will continue to do so and grow the project as needed,” the officer said.