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Israel repatriates 6 Syrians treated for wounds

February 27, 2013 08:37

Wounded treated at Safed's Ziv Hospital; repatriation completed at undisclosed location; one Syrian remains for more treatment.

Syria-Israel border

Syria-Israel border 370. (photo credit:Nir Elias/Reuters)

Israel repatriated on Wednesday six of seven Syrians after treating them for wounds suffered in the insurgency against President Bashar Assad, the IDF said.

Israel admitted the Syrians on Feb. 16 through the Golan Heights, whose eastern foothills have seen fighting between Assad's forces and rebels. Israeli officials gave no further details on the casualties' identities.

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A military spokeswoman said six of them were discharged from hospital and returned to Syria on Wednesday. The seventh was still under Israeli medical care with severe wounds, she said.

A statement issued by the IDF said the Syrians' repatriation "was completed at an undisclosed location for their own safety." Israel and Syria are technically at war, and some anti-Assad rebels are jihadists hostile to the Jewish state.   

The seven Syrians wounded in the upheaval gripping that country for almost two years were taken for 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. The other six were in less serious condition.

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

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 February 16 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 similarly 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.

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

Yaakov Lapin contributed to this report.
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