President Rivlin tours north, meets IDF soldiers, and visits injured Syrians being treated in Israel
(Communicated by the President’s Spokesperson)
President Reuven Rivlin today (Sunday) visited IDF soldiers of the Givati “Shaked” Brigade, stationed on the border with Lebanon. He wished them all Happy Passover, and joined them in a toast in honor of the festival which was due to begin on Monday evening. During his tour, the President received an intelligence and military update on the situation on the northern border, before going on to speak with the brigade’s soldiers about their various operations in the area.
The President spoke with the soldiers about the events in Syria, and said, “What is happening in Syria, first and foremost from a humanitarian perspective, demands the attention of the whole world, as it goes beyond a local conflict, or a clash of forces. These are things that humanity cannot comprehend. And as for us, who find ourselves in the eye of the storm with such events occurring around us, as a people who established our country and lives together despite the difficulties, we know that even struggles have limits, and I think that what is being done in Syria requires the attention of the world, and certainly our attention.”
The President added, “These things are currently preoccupying the international arena, and raising the dispute between the US and Russia. They are raising the question as to whether a dictator is able treat his people however he feels. How, in the 21st Century, can one think he is able to use chemical weapons at all, let alone against human beings?”
On the issue of Israeli intervention in the fighting in Syria, the President clarified, “We need, out of a sense of reason and understanding, and with great knowledge and caution, to stand together with the entire world and perhaps as leaders of the entire world. I am confident that those responsible in the State of Israel will consider what we can do and how we can intensify what we are already doing, in order to alleviate the suffering of innocent people.”
The President thanked the soldiers and commanders for their dedication and said, “The IDF is ready and prepared for any danger that could threaten us from the war taking place in Syria itself. I must tell you that this year, more than ever, we feel safe because you are here.”
Later, the President visited the Western Galilee Medical Center in Naharia, and met with the medical staff, accompanied by Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman Tov, and hospital General Director, Dr. Masad Barhoum.
Since March 2013, more than 1,500 of those wounded in the civil war in Syria have reached the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya; about a third of them children and infants. During his visit to the hospital, the President met with hospital staff and spoke about the unique nature of the hospital serving the entire region. “Your business is pride,” the President told the medical staff, and continued, “Israeli pride, Jewish pride. It is proof that the world is built on kindness. Israel will continue to do everything it can with responsibility and wisdom, in order to alleviate the suffering of the people who experience daily slaughter here on the other side of the border.”
He continued, “The United States proved on Friday that there are red lines that cannot be crossed in a civilized world, and I hope it will serve as an example for the entire free world. And we, who have risen from the ashes of the Holocaust, know very well that silence cannot be an option.”
During his visit the President spoke with some of those being treated from Syria, and (through an interpreter) heard of the humanitarian assistance that the State of Israel had been providing in recent years with cooperation between the IDF and the hospital staff.
Dr. Masad Barhoum, Director of the Galilee Medical Center spoke of his recent address at the AIPAC conference in the US, “It was an opportunity for me to present to fourteen thousand people, and a few million others who were watching the various channels of communication. To explain how we turned those wounded Syrians, from enemies to friends. The treatment of the wounded Syrians has turned our trauma center into one of the most experienced in Israel, and one of the world leaders in providing care for complex and difficult war casualties, which is a matter of great pride. But it is inconceivable that the Galilee Medical Center will bear the burden of the cost of a national project, of a Government decision. Together with the Ministry of Health and the Director General - who honored us in his presence - we are working with all the parties to ensure financial coverage of the activity, which costs hundreds of millions of shekels. This is important.”