Medicine helps bridge the gap between Israel and Syria

Located just miles from the Syrian border, Poriya Hospital has become a safe haven for Syrian children in need. A humanitarian effort has thousands of Syrians crossing the border into northern Israel—a country many had been told was the enemy, in search of medical help. 

Physicians helping children from the other side of the border shared their experiences from the Poriya Hospital, located in the St. Paul Jewish community's partnership region. Stateside, the physicians spoke with an audience at the Jewish Federation of Greater St. Paul just hours after Israeli forces unleashed its largest attack against Syria in more than 30 years. 

“This is our mission as physicians and as a medical team,” said Dr. Erez Omn, the director general of the hospital. 

For the past two years, through the Good Neighbor Project, Omn and his team have treated thousands of Syrian children ravaged by war. 

“We will do whatever is needed to help them because they’re humans like us and we’d like to do the best for them,” Omn said. 

“For us it’s a holocaust that’s happening next door,” said Dr. Batsheva Tzadok, ER physician. 

Ever since the civil war erupted in Syria in 2011, children have been threatened not only by violence, but also by the lack of health care, Tzadok said. 

Tzadok said whenever he sees attacks like the one that was unleashed Thursday, he worries it will be harder for the children going to the clinic to cross the border. 

Amid the growing conflict and uncertainty, medicine is bridging the gap between the two countries at war. 

“Though there is tension now between Syria and Israel, we hope that it will calm down and we will continue with this important project,” Omn said.