For the first time since the Syrian civil war began, Israel’s government authorized the delivery of humanitarian aid into Syrian territory near its border, an American-Israeli businessman and philanthropist leading the project, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
“Israel finally agreed to allow in three types of aid: medical, educational, and food,” said Moti Kahana, a businessman and founder of the NGO Amaliah, who sold his company in 2010 and since then has been using his own money to aid the Syrian rebels.
The aid is being brought to the Israeli border with Syria, but no Amaliah employees are going into Syria, he explained.
The aid is being transferred into what Kahana calls a “Safe Zone” adjacent to the Israeli border and comprised of the town of Quneitra and its surrounding area.
Kahana has been pushing the Israeli government to allow such aid flows and the deliveries are being coordinated with Amaliah.
One of the first goals is to provide urgently needed medical supplies in order to construct a field hospital so that Syrians can be treated there without have to leave the country.
Asked how the aid is going to be transferred into Syria and if the IDF is going to insure security for the delivery, Kahana responded, “the IDF knows who to trust.”
Questioned about the influence of Islamic State and al-Qaida’s Nusra Front in the Quneitra area, he responded that it is imperative to get education supplies to the children there so that they can be in school and not to be brainwashed and join radical Islamic groups.
For the last five years, no schools have been functioning in this region.
Sources in the Free Syrian Army (FSA) coalition active in the area tell Kahana that the area is fairly calm and the locals are trying to uphold a safe zone. “This is a good opportunity to help and show them that their neighbors are wonderful people,” he said.
Kahana called on the “world to join us. What we are doing by creating this safe zone is preventing the departure of more refuges.” He noted that the population in the Quneitra area is currently around 200,000 people compared to one million previously.
Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud) told the Post, “I fully support sending humanitarian aid to the Quneitra area.”
“Islamic State is today in retreat and the FSA is there as well as Nusra Front fighters. We don’t want radicals to arrive to our border,” he said, adding that Israel is closely observing events.
Israel agrees to facilitate the transfer of humanitarian aid, but does not want to accept refugees, the Druse deputy minister explained.
“Civilians are in a difficult situation and we want to help them and not wait for others,” he added.
Asked how the aid would be delivered, Kara was vague, but said the aid would be brought to the border and the IDF would take over from there.