Israel is to grant refugee status to 100 orphaned Syrian refugee children, in line with a decision by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri on Wednesday.
According to Channel 10, the children will receive temporary resident status and become permanent residents after four years, and be able to remain in Israel for their entire lives.
Channel 10 said that the children will be integrated into Arab Israeli families. Furthermore, any of the children’s immediate relatives will also be considered for refugee status.
The government made the final decision on the future of the refugees and will now liaise with the relevant international organizations to bring the orphans into the country.
Israel has been in open conflict with Syria since its creation in 1948, fighting three conventional wars against its northern neighbor.
— George Deek (@GeorgeDeek) January 25, 2017
For more than half a decade, the Syrian civil war has raged just across the border from the Jewish state, reportedly claiming the lives of nearly half a million souls and driving millions more from their homes.
The Israeli government has declared itself neutral in the complex conflict, but has not avoided the massive humanitarian catastrophe at its own doorstep.
Israel has treated those wounded in the conflict for the past several years. Over 2,000 Syrians have been treated in Israel, 600 in Safed’s Ziv Medical Center alone, since December 2013. Many are women and children.
The official line from the Israeli army is that it will treat any Syrian who requires serious medical assistance, no matter who they are. Medical assistance to Syrian civil war casualties, the IDF says, is a humanitarian initiative.
Additionally, non-governmental organizations continue to work to help Syrians.
The Amaliah organization — which in Hebrew means “the work of God” — offers a number of humanitarian services for Syrians, including providing food, medical aid, drinking water and educational materials; coordinating visits to Israeli hospitals; holding women’s empowerment workshops; and pushing for an internationally backed safe zone in southern Syria.
In September, even when the UN was unable to transfer aid to Syrians during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha because it was too dangerous, the IDF transferred one ton of meat from Amaliah.
Since August, again with coordination of the IDF, Amaliah has brought in three busloads of Syrians — 120 kids — to be treated in Israeli hospitals.
Another initiative, an online crowdfunding campaign, “Just Beyond the Border,” has raised over $350,000 in one month to bring much-needed emergency aid to the children of Syria — more than double its original aim.
The campaign’s title reflects the ideology behind it: that Israelis simply cannot ignore the horrors taking place in neighboring Syria.
Dov Lieber contributed to this report.