(photo: Nave Antopolsky/iAID)

 (photo: Nave Antopolsky/iAID)

By Dov Lieber - January 25, 2017

Originally appeared here in the Times of Israel 

The scale of destruction and death caused by the Syrian civil war has struck an old, dark chord in the hearts of many Israelis. For more than half a decade, a war has raged just across the border from the Jewish state, reportedly claiming the lives of nearly half a million souls and driving millions more from their homes.

The Israeli government has declared itself neutral in the complex conflict, careful not to get sucked into the violent whirlwind threatening the whole region. But Israel has not avoided the gravitational pull of the massive humanitarian catastrophe at its own doorstep.

Israel and its northern neighbor have formally been at war for seven decades. But following the outbreak of the civil war, the Jewish state has been treating Syrian casualties, including wounded fighters. More than 2,000 Syrians have been treated in Israeli hospitals since 2013, according to the Israeli army. Still, Israeli civilians, who are forbidden to enter Syria both under Israeli and Syrian law, have had little ability to act on any sympathy they may feel for the war-struck nation.

But two recent Israeli civilian initiatives, driven by the oath of “never again” — understood by Jews worldwide as a moral imperative to prevent any genocide after the Holocaust — are giving everyday Israelis a chance to help. Read More