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7 Syrians hurt in civil war treated in Israel
By YAAKOV LAPPIN AND JPOST.COM STAFF
16/02/2013
Syrian army bombards rebels in Syrian Golan Heights near border; IDF treats Syrians, evacuates them to hospital in Safed.
 
The seven Syrians wounded in the upheaval gripping that country for almost two years were evacuated to Israel, and were all in stable condition on Sunday after surgery at Safed’s Ziv Hospital.

Their admission came as a surprise to Ziv, but the hospital spokesman said: “When patients come to the emergency room, we take care of them.”

Five arrived at first, followed by two more. All suffered from gunshot or shrapnel wounds. One of the patients, who was shot in the abdomen, was in critical condition but stabilized and operated on; he is now in intensive care. The other six were in less serious condition. The Syrians are being guarded in separate rooms, and there are Arab speakers who can communicate with them.

A spokesman said wounded are likely to be hospitalized for about a week, after the IDF allowed seven Syrians to enter Israel on Saturday for medical treatment.

The men had arrived at the Syrian-Israeli border fence, and IDF soldiers administered first aid on the scene, an army spokeswoman said.

They were then rushed to the Ziv Medical Center in Safed.

One of the Syrians was seriously wounded, four were moderately wounded and two had light wounds.

It was the first time that Syrians had been taken to Israel for medical treatment since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began almost two years ago.

Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Saturday that Israel’s decision to allow the Syrians into the country did not mark a change in policy.

Speaking in an interview with Channel 2, Ya’alon said that Syrian refugees would not be allowed into Israel en masse, and that the incident was an exception. Similar instances in the future would be judged on a case-by-case basis, he said.

An army source stressed that the evacuation was “a pinpoint incident that does not signify a change of policy.

The policy is not to permit border crossings, except in special humanitarian cases, each of which will be examined individually.”

One official said the government had for months been preparing various contingency plans for how to deal with scenarios that could play out along the Golan border. Saturday’s incident fell under one of those scenarios.

The wounded men came as Syrian troops bombarded the demilitarized zone near Israel on Saturday in reprisal for rebel action nearby, according to AFP.

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Earlier in the day, rebels had overrun a military police checkpoint in the town of Khan Arnabeh, just outside the cease-fire zone on the border with Israel.

The rebels claimed to have seized a Syrian army tank, as well as other weaponry, destroying the tank when government troops began to retaliate.

The Syrian army also shelled the village of Jubata al-Khashab, which lies inside the demilitarized zone, AFP reported.

The continuing violence in Syria has spilled over into Israeli territory on several occasions. During fighting between army forces and rebels in November, several mortar shells and stray bullets struck in Israel, drawing Israeli return fire.

The IDF stated at the time that it did not believe the shooting had been deliberate.

Herb Keinon and Judy Siegel-Itzkovich contributed to this report.
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