Syrians Looking to Israel for Safety

Syrians Looking to Israel for Safety

When you were young, what did your parents tell you when you didn’t want to eat all your dinner?

Parents around the world told their children to finish all the food on their plate, “because children were starving in China” or “hungry in Africa.”

In Syria, a mother told her young son, “If you do not finish your dinner, “Big Zionists will come and drink your blood.”

Imagine this young man’s surprise to find himself taken to Israel by the IDF for life-saving medical treatment, waking up in a hospital where the signs were in Arabic and the staff spoke his language.

Arab couple walking outside Galilee Medical Center

One of the northern Israeli hospitals treating wounded Syrians is the Galilee Medical Center (GMC). It has taken over 1,500 of the 5-6,000 Syrians that Israel has treated.

What began with seven patients on February 16, 2013, has grown over the years. Word slowly traveled back over the border that if you want the best medical treatment, go to Israel.

Syrian man in Jerusalem Israel who was treated in Israeli hospital

Treating patients from Arab countries, Gaza, or Syria, is not new.  A Syrian father who accompanied a son to Jerusalem for medical treatment, fell ill, and was treated in a hospital in Jerusalem in May of 2014. Here he is recuperating on a bed in the center of Jerusalem.

Then, as now, for their safety when they return to Syria, no names, no photos of faces are used to identity these patients. Having received life-saving treatment which is only available in Israel could be a death sentence for those patients when they return to Syria.

Farm land in Galil on way to Golan Israel

On a trip to the Golan from Jerusalem, Israel, one passes cultivated fields.

Israeli cemetery with new apartments being built near by

Rising apartment blocks for housing are seen, even on the outskirts of a municipal cemetery.

Galilee Medical Center map of northern Israel

This map of northern Israel shows the Nahariya area where the GMC is located.  More than 800 Katyushas were fired here during the Second Lebanon War, one hit and destroyed an entire department on the 4th floor of the hospital.

Pleasant scene in Golan guest houses Alonei Ha'Bashan

The northern border has been quiet for the last few years of the “Good Neighbor” policy.

Galilee Medical Center underground surgery area

But the GMC Underground Hospital unit is ready if the need arises to evacuate patients again.

Syrian man being treated in Israel hospital

This Syrian patient, Hani from Ghutta, near Damascus, has been receiving treatment for two years. Currently there are 40 Syrians at GMC and more at other northern Israeli hospitals.

Jeeps for ride to Golan Heights

Jeeps are necessary to get to the Golan Heights vantage point, as a bus could not safely navigate the narrow and winding roads up the mountain.

Syrian border from Israeli Golan Heights

This is the view from the Bashan Hazaka observation point,

Syrians near border of Israel for safety

and a close up view of the area in southern Syria, near the Israeli border.

View of Syria from Golan Heights

This is the view to the left, and  at the bottom of the photo, there is a yellow sign warning of land mines.

Southern Syria mountain top close up

Here is a close up of the top of the hill that appears in the distance in the previous picture.

Golan Heights view of Syria

Look to the right, from the observation point and one sees a cluster of trees.

From Israel Golan Heights Syrian refugees near border

However, in a close up of the area, one sees the tents more clearly.  These green IDF tents were supplied to homeless Syrians.

Syrian refugee camp as seen from Golan Heights

Displaced Syrian refugees have come to the border of Israel for their own safety.

From Golan Heights tent in Syria for refugees

Bringing their families and whatever they can schlep, they are getting away from the Russians bombing from above and Assad’s forces, aided by Iran and Hezbollah, shooting to kill on the ground.

Syrian Israeli border rusty tank

Reminders of the previous Israeli-Syrian wars are still around, as evidenced by the rusty tank in the bottom of this photo.

Abandoned Syrian bunkers on Golan Heights

At the observation point on top of Bashan are remains of Syrian bunkers and old army vehicle.

Abandoned Syrian bunkers on top of Golan Heights

In the past the Syrians were here shooting down at Israelis over the Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee.

Head of IDF medical unit in Golan Heights pointing to Syria

Lt. Colonel Dr. Tomer Koller, the medical officer of the Bashan Division in the Golan Heights, showed us the area where tens of thousands of Syrians are encamped. Those in need of medical treatment come there to find assistance.

How could anyone think it is a good idea to “give back” the Golan Heights to Syria?

view of Kinneret at sunset

After many years, the Kinneret  is again under threat from the intensified Syrian civil war.

The IDF Good Neighbor Operation has been helping.

Israeli residents in the north have gathered aid to send.

Mendi Safadi of the Safadi Center is working to open schools for the children displaced in Syria.

Frontier Alliance International (FAI) is working with IDF to get international doctors into Syria to help with the medical crisis.

Arab countries have shut their borders to Syria.

Where have the UN, EU, and human rights organizations been all these years?

Because of the growing humanitarian crisis, fleeing Syrians are flocking to the Israeli border.

Perhaps the next generation in Syria will not be taught to fear “blood thirsty Zionists.”

 

Shabbat Shalom – Unity

Shabbat Shalom – Unity

The fourth Jerusalem Unity Prizes were awarded in Jerusalem, Israel.

Initiated in memory of three the kidnapped and murdered teenagers,

Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel z”l

the prizes celebrate the unity the families felt in those difficult days.

Instead of one photo for Shabbat shalom greeting, three short video clips from Beit Hanasi,          the Israeli President’s residence, where the ceremony took place in the main hall.

“The Spark of Love” Hebrew lyrics Ehud Banal was sung by Shuli Rand and Guri Alfi.

Birthright participants entered to sing “One Day.”

Hatikvah, the Hope.

שבת שלום

Shabbat shalom

See New Old Streets – London in Jerusalem:

See New Old Streets – London in Jerusalem:

Time.

Time sometimes seems to pass so quickly and other times so slowly. This week in a heat wave every minute outside seemed longer.

The history of Jerusalem goes back millennia, and 30 years is a mere blink of an eye.

The British began their governance of Jerusalem after centuries of Ottoman rule in December of 1917, and left in 1948. However, in those 30 years, Jerusalem changed drastically.

Social and cultural exhibit at Tower of David Museum London in Jerusalem

The British brought with them a new life of culture to the Middle East, and a new exhibit at the Tower of David Museum shares it with us.

Have you ever thought about how much changed over the 30 years of the British Mandate?

Replica of Fink's Bar in Tower of David Museum exhibit on British rule

British soldiers needed their entertainment and liquor. Cafes such as Fink’s Bar and Restaurant offered oysters and other delicacies  previously unknown.

Tower of David London in Jerusalem menu from British days

The London in Jerusalem exhibit offers insights into life on the real Jerusalem streets.

Cigarettes and liquor brought to Levant by British in first part of 20th century

Infrastructure was important, but so were cigarettes and alcoholic beverages.

Old sign in Tower of David Fink's Bar Jerusalem

Some items in this exhibit would not be considered politically correct these days.

Jerusalem map for British Mandate soldiers

This is a map of Jerusalem given to British soldiers. The photo is one of dozens of old photos in a slide presentation.

Palestine Radio at Tower of David Museum for London in Jerusalem exhibit

One of the five sections of the exhibit highlights the British Palestine Broadcasting Service (PBS) which opened in March 1936. “This is Jerusalem Calling!” was followed by broadcasts in Hebrew and Arabic.

Old posters from British era in Jerusalem

Posters announced the various shows, plays and events new to Jerusalem, including flower shows with trophies presented to the winners.

Tower of David set for performance

The Tower of David today hosts numerous events on this stage and can seat over 300 people.

Tower of David London in Jerusalem, photos from early British years

In this old photo we can see how the space looked before it was excavated in the 1980’s.

Over the centuries the Tower of David was used for military purposes. It was the first British Governor Sir Ronald Storrs who envisioned it as a cultural venue.

Sports day in Jerusalem with men on camels old photo

The British also brought sports.  A military sports day was held on Mount Scopus in 1934.  I am not sure what the sport was on these camels. Perhaps polo?

Jerusalem YMCA photo in Tower of David Museum

There is a  photo of the sports field behind the YMCA.

Notice those barren hills in the distance.

Tower of David photo men dancing in kilts London in Jerusalem

With the culture and music, the British brought new dances too.

Early scene of Jerusalem 1918 at Tower of David London in Jerusalem

On each side of the exhibition room, there are three panels over the thick stone walls, which change to show the passage of time.

If you could look out, in 1918, you would have seen the scene above

Tower of David Museum photo of blimp in Jerusalem

and in 1933, in the distance was the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus.

London in Jerusalem at Tower of David Museum

Ah, 1934 was a good year, Happy Birthday King George.

Tower of David 1946 Jerusalem streets blocked in Tower of David show

But by 1946, streets were blocked, and barbed wire was up, Jerusalem streets were dangerous.

Parlour from British influence in London in Jerusalem exhibit at Tower of David Museum

This salon is reconstructed as it would have been in Rechavia, and has original artifacts on display.

Ad for Lipton Tea in Tower of David London in Jerusalem exhibit

Oh, and the British brought tea and grand tea parties, too.

Tower of David London in Jerusalem bat

And Pimm’s for summer afternoon cocktails at parties on the lawn.

London in Jerusalem bar sign Tower of David

Besides bars and cafes, ten cinemas were opened in Jerusalem.

London in Jerusalem offers visitors also, a small theater recreated with wooden benches, to watch vintage footage from the 1930’s and 1940’s.

While Allenby at the Gates of Jeruslaem featured the military history of the time, London in Jerusalem is a walk down memory lane of the real streets.

Both exhibits are to run until December 2018.

I think older visitors will appreciate this exhibit more than younger ones, even with the modern technology included. Therefore, I was especially pleased to see that this exhibit is disabled and wheel chair accessible.

At night, you can come back to Tower of David for the new King David Night Spectacular 

So much happens on the Jerusalem streets these days, however, it was interesting to see what was happening at the beginning of the century also.