Israel Offers Humanitarian Aid to Repressed Syrians

With humanitarian concerns making headlines in Syria as the Bashar al-Assad regime continues its brutal crackdown on his opposition, needy Syrians received an offer of aid from a unique source: Israel. The two states have been in a state of war for decades, but the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) contacted the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) about sending aid to Syria nonetheless.

Israel has sent humanitarian assistance and rescue teams to nations facing crisis around the world, while citizens of enemy states have received medical care in Israel as well. In addition, Israel and Syria have arranged for transfers of apples across the border to benefit the Druze community that have connections to both countries.

According to a press release posted on the Foreign Ministry’s website, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman instructed MFA Deputy Director General for International Organizations and the United Nations Evyatar Manor to reach out to the Red Cross with the offer to send Syrian civilians aid “under Red Cross auspices.”

The press release said the Red Cross’ representatives in Israel responded by saying they will give an “appropriate reply once they have examined the population’s needs and requirements.”

“The Jewish State cannot sit by and do nothing while these atrocities are taking place in a neighboring state and people are losing their entire world,” Lieberman was quoted in the press release as saying. “Even though Israel cannot intervene in events occurring in a country with which it does not have diplomatic relations, it is nevertheless our moral duty to extend humanitarian aid and inspire the world to put an end to the slaughter.”

The Red Cross has managed to send aid into various areas of Syria, according to the ICRC Twitter feed. However, not all of those efforts have been successful. Last week the ICRC lamented the refusal of Syrian authorities to allow entrance to one of the more devastated neighborhoods in the city of Homs.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, March 5, 2012)