An Israeli NGO working under the radar has sent 70 tons of sanitation items, 670 tons of food, 300,000 dry meals, 20 tons of medications and post trauma care specialists to Syrian refugees since the start of the bloody civil war.
The NGO does not identify its members and is only known as IL4Syrians.
“The harsh reality in which the organization is operating is on behalf of the victims of [Syrian President Bashar] Assad’s atrocities, which demands us to carry out our activities below the radar and hide our identities. This is in order to protect the lives of team members and local contacts, and to ensure the flow of victims’ needs, such as food, medicine, and basic supplies,” a statement on the website reads.
The group is made up of 1200 volunteers. They include doctors, medical clowns, post trauma specialists (who train Syrian nurses and community workers to offer relief in the refugee camps), and every day people “who love their homeland and believe in a Jewish tradition and culture that values a compassionate, open-minded respect for the sanctity of human life and dignity.”
The NGO’s mission statement reads: “Nobody asks permission to kill. We do not ask permission to save lives.”
Though the group of volunteers has been at work for over a year, not much has been reported about them for fear of jeopardizing their work. Snippets in the media began appearing in the last few weeks, citing the group’s activities and their call for donations.
An Israeli reporter joined the group on one mission to a Syrian refugee camp and found a mixed reaction when the refugees heard they were being helped by Israelis.
According to the group’s website, they have delivered food (rice, oil, flour, lentils, pasta, canned food); mattresses, blankets, water canteens, and iron sheets to build housing units; sanitation items (shampoo, soap, toothpaste and brushes, toilet paper); emergency medical aid (IV’s, saline, bandages, disposable wound treatment, sewing kits for surgery, disinfectant liquid and ointment); and have performed lifesaving surgeries.
They’ve also trained Syrian youth in digital photography and have donated cameras so that the refugees can “take shots that the media will want to see” while teaching them “to remain untraceable, so they stay out of danger.”
The volunteers, however, are also putting themselves in danger by crossing into a country our-of-bound for Israelis. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, one of the group’s members said:
“We are all parents, we all have families and we all understand the consequences if we ever get in trouble. There is no smart way to deal with fear. But the choice to do this, to feel that you are in the right place at the right time and that you are helping make a significant change, is so rewarding.”