All Things Soldier: Operation Good Neighbor

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
One of the things that stood out to me as well to Iraqis when I was in Baghdad from ’04 to ’07, was the medical and humanitarian care that was given by our troops to civilians, the injured, and even the enemy. The same is true in Israel, something that has been well documented, even by people who live in nations that want to destroy her. The care provided by the IDF is so well known throughout the Middle East that, for example, residents of devastated Syria leave at nightfall to sneak to bases in the Golan Heights to get treatment and help. They go back under cover of dark so they are not detected, which, ironically, could lead to their death. The IDF op is called Operation Good Neighbor, and the looks on the faces of the “treaters” as well as the “treated” says it all.

As one male medic replied when asked why he did it: “To help someone whose life is in danger, to do this simply without a motive or agenda, to help because you can.” A female medic said, “It’s very fulfilling to know that you can make a change.” Another female medic’s answer was, “It really is [a] feeling of purpose, both of purpose and of value of human life.” A burqa-clad Syrian woman whose identity had to be concealed said, “I arrived in Israel through the border in order to take care of my child, and no matter how much we thank Israel, we still owe her. We thank them very much because they take care of our injured and help our children.” But the one that gets me the most is a little Syrian girl who is coloring with crayons and for safety’s sake has to keep her back to the camera. Her tender little voice says, “I love Israel a lot. I wish I could be here.” I ran into this in Iraq more than once: Arabs who loved Israel and wanted the freedom to be able to say so.

It is also well known that Syria has been using what are known as “civil war spillover” tactics, i.e., they pretend to be fighting only their civil war while they launch attacks on Israel, and yet the citizens of Syria know that it is the Israelis who will help if they get caught in the crossfire.

So, why am I bothering to write about another army’s medical and humanitarian efforts? I have two reasons. The first is that I am very tired of the continual Hamas propaganda that accuses the IDF of war crimes, though Hamas and others are the ones using women and children as human shields when Israel defends itself after being attacked. It is astonishing to me to read the comments of people, Americans in particular, who believe those accusations and never bother to check to see if they’re true. “Fake news” is real, and Israel is not immune.

The second is to discuss some new battlefield medical technology that is being used by the Israelis that saves lives by stopping bleeding through the use of balloons. It is called Resuscitative Endovascular Balloon Occlusion of the Aorta, or REBOA, and is used when a person is about to bleed out from a traumatic aortic injury. A catheter balloon is placed into the aorta and then inflated, which stops the bleeding. I have no doubt that soon, when the IDF is fully trained in this procedure, Syrians are going to be some of the ones who will benefit. Why? Here is a quote from an Israeli doctor by the name of Yitzhak who is excited about REBOA: “In Israel, we tend to be busy with trying to live fulfilling lives or dying at the hands of our enemies. IDF medics risk their lives to give correct care to everyone, including wounded Syrians across our border, humanitarian aid to people all over the world and even medical care to our enemies.” I don’t think we’ll be hearing a comparable quote from a Hamas doc any time soon.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner