QUNEITRA CROSSING, Golan Heights (AP) — Seven wounded Syrians — two children, four women and a man — waited in pain for darkness to fall to cross into enemy territory. Under the faint moonlight, Israeli military medical corps quickly whisked the patients across the hostile frontier into armored ambulances headed to hospitals for intensive care.
It was a scene that has recurred since 2013, when the Israeli military began treating Syrian civilians wounded in fighting just a few kilometers (miles) away. Israel says it has quietly treated 3,000 patients — a number that it expects to quickly grow as fighting heats up in neighboring Syria in the wake of a chemical attack and, in response, an unprecedented US missile strike.
While the numbers are a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded in the six-year Syrian war, both doctors and patients say the program has changed perceptions and helped ease tensions across the hostile border…. read more