Nearly every night, Israeli special ops forces secretly rescue wounded fighters in Syria, among them jihadists, as seen in dramatic footage the Daily Mail captured while embedded with the military force.
The British paper set out to learn why the Israelis are “saving their sworn enemy,” putting their own lives at risk and spending more than $13 million on the effort.
The Daily Mail reported that the secret nighttime missions have saved more than 2,000 people since 2013, some of them members of Al Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria.
Some of the wounded jihadists have said openly that they plan to kill Israelis.
The Daily Mail described the dramatic rescue scene:
Under cover of darkness, an Israeli armoured car advances down the potholed road that leads to Syria.
As it crests a small hill, the driver picks up the radio handset and tells his commanding officer that the border is in sight.
He kills the engine. Ten heavily-armed commandos jump out and take cover, watching for signs of ambush. Then five of them move up to the 12ft chainlink fence that marks the limit of Israeli-held territory.
On the other side, on the very edge of Syria, lies an unconscious man wrapped like a doll in a blood-drenched duvet. The commandos unlock the fence, open a section of it and drag him onto Israeli soil.
The man — whom the Daily Mail described as an Islamist militant about age 20 — had been shot in the intestines and liver. The Israeli rescue squad put him on a stretcher then in an armored vehicle to send to an Israeli hospital.
Israeli officials have said the effort is one of its many international humanitarian missions that perhaps may win some “hearts and minds” in Syria. About 20 percent of the treated Syrians are civilians, the Daily Mail reported.
On the mission in which the Daily Mail was embedded, Israeli military medics treated and evacuated a sick 2-month-old baby girl and a man who had suffered a heart attack:
The rescue of the baby girl was particularly poignant. Her older brother had died of a rare bone disease, and her mother feared that she was showing symptoms of the same disorder. Distraught, the woman decided to brave the dangers of the border and appeal to the enemy for help.
The baby was treated under cover of darkness in the back of an armoured car, by Israeli military medics with rifles slung over their shoulders. They were able to ascertain that she was suffering from a high fever and gave the mother some much-needed medication.
Then mother and infant were escorted by heavily-armed combat troops back to the Syrian warzone. Diagnosing the bone disorder would have to wait.
“I am proud of what we are doing here, but it is a great burden. For every Syrian in hospital, there is one less bed for an Israeli,” Lt. Col. Itzik Malka, commander of the IDF Golani Brigades’ medical branch, said.
The Daily Mail later visited Syrian militants being treated at a hospital in northern Israel.
At least two of them praised Israel and vowed to no longer fight the Jewish state; however, a Christian Arab-Israeli social worker said he didn’t believe them.
“I will not fight against Israel in the future. Israel looks after wounded people better than the Arabs. The Arabs are dogs,” said one of the rebels in the hospital.
Issa Peres, the Christian social worker, told the Mail, “Many of them said bad words to me, that they are going to kill me, they are going to fight with the Christian community, when they are safe they will fight against Israel.”
“I don't trust any one of them. They grew up believing Israel is their enemy, Israel is the devil. You can't change their minds by taking care of them for two weeks,” he added.
In June, a mob of Druze men on the Israeli side of the Syrian border attacked an Israeli ambulance, angry that the IDF was treating wounded militants targeting the Druze minority in Syria. During the attack, which was described as a “lynching,” one of the wounded patients was beaten to death.
Read the full report at the Daily Mail.