We’ve had mixed feelings about sharing the news of Israeli medics and doctors treating the wounded from Syria’s civil war. Of course we were eager to educate an ignorant (often willfully so) public about the humanity shown between supposed enemies. But as the Syrians who were treated needed to keep it hush-hush else they pay for their Israeli-restored health with their Syrian-taken lives, we didn’t want to ruin a good thing.
Two years have passed since the State of Israel opened its gates to permit victims of Syria’s conflict to enter the country and receive medical treatment. While the media occasionally publishes articles that include interviews with the wounded or the civilian doctors who provide them treatment, issues such as the stressful and traumatic circumstances IDF paramedics experience in their work are rarely brought to the public’s attention.
The harrowing events experienced by soldiers during their long hours of work has been taking a toll the IDF can no longer ignore. Testimonies collected by Ynet from IDF medics and paramedics who served in the area for the past two years paint an alarming picture, detailing the extent to which IDF medical teams are influenced by the difficult scenes they encounter on almost a daily basis.
Ido (not his real name), who served in the past year as a medic in the sector, describes scenes of what he terms as “institutionalized madness.”
“It’s insane,” he says. “They wake you up at 5 am and tell you that at 8:30, you will have to carry out authorization checks (procedures in which you make sure the wounded are not terrorists) on dozens of severely wounded people who will be waiting for you at the security fence. That’s how you start your day. You brush your teeth, eat breakfast, knowing that in two more hours you’ll be treating an open head wound…It’s crazy.”
“As a medical team, we have a commitment to provide aid to every human being, even if he’s an enemy,” an IDF paramedic regularly stationed at the area said. “An unbelievable amount of wounded people from enemy countries pass through here,” she said, explaining that “you don’t know their names due to secrecy issues.”
Some, she said, are “children who you know were not involved in the any kind of fighting and arrive with a nearly-detached leg, or an elderly man who wasn’t treated for a week, whose hand is infected to the extent that you know that severing it is the only thing that will save his life.”
While the IDF refrains from specifying the exact number of Syrians Israel has taken in so far, estimates place the number at several thousand. According to data from hospitals in the north, as many as 1,000 wounded passed through their doors. Many others were released directly from the military field hospital set up at the border.
You can see how that might take a toll. But leave it to the Israelis to make chicken soup out of chicken poop:
“The advantage of the work is the operational experience we received in treating the wounded, us during Operation Protective Edge. It improved the quality of our medical care more than any training exercise, and helped us not suffer from shock when we were inside Gaza, treating wounded soldiers.”
So, there’s that.
Again, we feel proud even just to share this news. But don’t let it get around. Israel’s got a reputation to protect.