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Netanyahu plans to treat Syrian refugees at Israeli hospitals

Israel has brought thousands of Syrian refugees from the Syrian Golan Heights into the country for medical treatment, but is looking beyond its border to the more complicated problem of helping refugees from Aleppo.

By
Stephen Feller
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday his Foreign Ministry is searching for additional ways to help refugees of the civil war in Syria, including bringing more of them to Israel for medical treatment. Israel has brought thousands of Syrian refugees from the Syrian Golan Heights to Israeli hospitals, and is considering how it might be able to do the same for refugees from Aleppo. File photo by Debbie Hill/UPI
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday his Foreign Ministry is searching for additional ways to help refugees of the civil war in Syria, including bringing more of them to Israel for medical treatment. Israel has brought thousands of Syrian refugees from the Syrian Golan Heights to Israeli hospitals, and is considering how it might be able to do the same for refugees from Aleppo. File photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

JERUSALEM, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- The prime minister of Israel on Tuesday said he is searching for ways to help more refugees of the Syrian civil war, especially those who are starting to escape the decimated city of Aleppo.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he has instructed his Foreign Ministry to start exploring ways to increase the help Israel has been giving to civilians hurt in the war. He suggested the country should look into bringing them into the country for treatment at its hospitals.

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"We see the tragedy of terrible suffering of civilians and I've asked the Foreign Ministry to seek ways to expand our medical assistance to the civilian causalities of the Syrian tragedy, specifically in Aleppo where we're prepared to take in wounded women and children, and also men if they're not combatants," Netanyahu said in a speech. 

Since 2011, thousands of civilians injured in the Syrian civil war have been treated in Israel. With an estimated 1 million refugees in the Syrian Golan Heights, elected officials in Israel have been calling on Netanyahu and the Israeli government to do something to help more of them.

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Thus far, most of the refugees treated in Israel have come from the Syrian Golan Heights, however the carnage in Aleppo and just-started evacuation of civilians who have been trapped among the cratered buildings and mountains of rubble there has Israeli leaders looking to help even more.

Netanyahu said he does not know whether Israel can provide help beyond caring for injured civilians. He said he remains unsure whether a unified Syria will emerge from the civil war when and if it ends, though he said it would not "spill over into our territory."

"Will it come together and be a unified Syria? I doubt it," Netanyahu said. "I think you have enclaves there and they are not about to disappear, but the suffering is great, and the one initiative we took is to help -- as I said -- thousands of Syrians who are sometimes mutilated beyond belief. We help them. I offered to do more today. I don't know if we can resolve [the crisis in] Syria, but we can help mitigate some of the suffering. That is the best that Israel can do."

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