It is 4:30 a.m. and pitch dark when the sick Syrian children and their mothers begin to cross into ­Israel.

There’s a 1-year-old girl with a squint, and a 2-year-old with a birth defect that prevents him from walking. The family of a slight 12-year-old is concerned that she is not growing. One child has a rash, another a rattling cough.

They emerge from the darkness into the yellow glare of the security lights on the Israeli side of the fence in the occupied Golan Heights, where they are searched before being allowed through. There are 19 children in total, a smaller group than most that appear roughly every week.

The children are allowed in as part of Israel’s “Good Neighbors” program, which began treating injured Syrian fighters and civilians in the early days of their country’s civil war but has expanded into a more complex operation that also sends fuel, food and supplies into Syria.

Israeli officials stress the humanitarian aspect of the program, but it has another aim: to create a friendly zone just inside Syria to serve as a bulwark against Israel’s archenemy, the Shiite movement Hezbollah.


Read the whole story from The Washington Post.

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