An IDF soldier comforts a Syrian child receiving humanitarian aid from Israel..
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
An American doctor volunteering at an IDF field hospital on the Golan Heights was lightly wounded by gunfire from fighting across the border in Syria.
The doctor, who was given medical care at the scene on Tuesday night, was treating wounded Syrians as part of the IDF’s Operation Good Neighbor. While the gunfire is believed to be errant fire, the incident is being investigated, the army said.
While Israel has largely stayed out of the civil war, the IDF has been working with international organizations and donors to transfer aid and provide medical care to thousands of Syrians living in villages close to the border.
In 2013, the IDF began treating wounded and sick Syrians, establishing a field hospital in the demilitarized buffer zone between Israel and Syria, and bringing in more than 3,000 Syrians to receive medical treatment in Israel.
Those who arrive at the Israeli border include both combatants and civilians.
All are given emergency field treatment to stabilize them before the IDF transfers them to hospitals where medical care is provided free of charge.
Operation Good Neighbor. (YouTube/Israel Defense Forces)
While the field hospital established in 2013 has since been shut down, a new hospital was opened in an IDF enclave in the demilitarized buffer zone this past July, with two doctors able to treat 30 patients a day each.
The field hospital, which was built by the IDF, is run by an American organization and has the capability to grow to 16-18 doctors, and thus provide care to more than 500 patients per day.
While it is not able to perform surgery, it provides care similar to those provided in any medical clinic.
Israel’s military is also facilitating the construction of two clinics inside Syria run by locals and NGO workers.
As part of its Operation Good Neighbor, the IDF is helping with logistical coordination and sending over material for the construction of the buildings as well as medical equipment and medicine.
While Islamic State- and al-Qaida-related groups have controlled the Syrian border for nearly five years, the Assad regime has recently been regaining territory, and its offensives have led to errant mortar shells and gunfire spilling into Israel.
The Syrian Army is currently engaged in a battle with al-Qaida gunmen in Beit Jinn, over the border and on the foothills of Mount Hermon. Last month, the IDF used a Patriot missile to shoot down a Hezbollah drone that was collecting intelligence for the Syrian regime offensive, and which had crossed into the demilitarized zone.
In June, a number of projectiles hit Israeli territory due to intense fighting on the Syrian side near Quneitra, as the Assad regime fought the al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other rebels groups.
The IDF said it is acting proportionally to prevent any deterioration and has responded to most of the spillover by retaliating against Assad