IDF Humanitarian Efforts in Syria Snubbed by International Media

July 29, 2018

3 min read

As the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) led efforts to successfully evacuate 422 Syrians to Jordan at the Syrian-Israeli border in coordination with the United Nations, the anti-Israel bias of international news outlets reared its ugly head, with various news organizations completely leaving Israel out of their headlines about the humanitarian effort.

Over the past few years, the IDF has performed countless humanitarian operations as a part of Operation Good Neighbor, which has provided aid to over 4,000 Syrians treated in Israeli hospitals and field hospitals. According to the IDF website, this operation has allowed Israel and the IDF to supply Syrians in need over 450,000 liters of fuel, 40 tons of flour, 225 tons of food, 12,000 packages of baby formula, 1,800 packages of diapers, 12 tons of shoes and 55 tons of cold weather clothing.

In this context and upon the request of the international community, the recent IDF-led evacuation included Syrian civil defense members (“White Helmets”) and their families, endangered by the war zone in southwestern Syria.

The group of civil defense members was created in 2014 to offer search and rescue operations in rebel-controlled Syria and Turkey.  

According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, the United States, Canada and additional European countries made the request for aid. As such, the evacuees were driven to the Israeli border and taken from there to Jordan by the IDF.

The IDF tweeted on July 21 that ”the transfer of the displaced Syrians through Israel is an exceptional humanitarian gesture.”

But various news outlets found Israel’s contributions un-newsworthy, leaving out Israel and the IDF from its reports on the mission. Al Jazeera reported, “Hundreds of White Helmets evacuated from Syria to Jordan.” NPR reported, “Syrian White Helmets Evacuated As Assad Regime Takes Over.” Asia Times reported, “White Helmets flee to Jordan.” Time reported “U.S. and Allies Prepare to Evacuate White Helmets From Southwest Syria.” Reuters reported, “Jordan allows passage to 800 Syrian civil defense workers on humanitarian grounds.” BBC News reported, “Syria conflict: White Helmets evacuated to Jordan.”

In later reports, Al Jazeera, NPR and Asia Times still failed to mention Israel in its headlines, despite the IDF’s leadership while Time, Reuters and BBC mentioned Israel, but maintained that the IDF operation was accomplished in the “Israeli-occupied Golan Heights” and used vernacular that minimized Israel’s efforts, such as “Israel claimed,” and “Israel says” it carried out an evacuation rather than stating its efforts as fact.

“Israel, which has been in a state of war with Syria for years, has rescued thousands of Syrians under the leadership of the IDF and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who authorized their most recent transfer to Jordan as an incredible humanitarian gesture,” said Dr. John A.I Grossman, Chairman of LIBI USA.

He told Breaking Israel News, “The IDF leads humanitarian gestures daily – from providing medical care, infrastructure and civilian aid to Syrians in need, to establishing a state-of-the-art field hospital in Nepal, to transferring trucks of humanitarian aid to Gaza through the Kerem Shalom Crossing.”

“However,” he added, “the international media is so often focused on reporting about what they perceive Israel as doing wrong that when the IDF leads critical humanitarian efforts, they often go unreported, as positive reports about Israel doesn’t match their narrative.”

The result, Grossman said, is an international media in which “humanitarian” and “Israel” in the same headline is an unfortunate rarity.

Written in coordination with LIBI USA.

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