Israelis in the Golan Heights pose with donations for Syrian refugees. (Photo courtesy of Golan Regional Council)

Israel has launched an urgent drive urging local residents in the region close to Syria to help refugees by donating clothes and toys. So far over 50 tons of material has been transferred to needy Syrian civilians near Israel’s northern border via the IDF.

Israelis living in the Golan Heights are close enough to hear the constant bombing and shooting across the Syrian frontier, and responded immediately to the appeal. Despite Syria and Israel remaining at war, hundreds of Israeli civilians have opened their hearts to help the displaced people, many of whom have fled their homes after repeated bombing by the Assad regime.

The Golan Regional Council in particular, which comprises some 32 Israeli villages and towns, has repeatedly appealed for urgently-needed items such as blankets and sunshades.

Late last week, the IDF declared it had delivered several tons of humanitarian aid to southwestern Syria. This aid was backed up by an Israeli NGO called Israeli Flying Aid, which oversaw the transfer of 30 tons of clothes and shoes, 13 tons of food, and 15 tons of baby formula milk, as well as 300 tents and a stock of medical supplies in a complicated operation which lasted several hours. The equipment and supplies will help alleviate the plight of tens of thousands of Syrians who fled Assad’s latest offensive in the Daraa region.

After operating secretly in Syria since 2011, Israel Flying Aid delivered a letter to Syrian civilians for the first time. “Although you are considered to be our sworn enemies and although by operating in the field our volunteers were risking their lives, as the descendants of Jews that survived the Holocaust, we, the volunteers of Israeli Flying Aid, proud Jewish citizens of the State of Israel, sanctify life and will not stand idly by as women and children are continuously slaughtered”, read the letter.

“The refugees arrived with no basic equipment for dignified living,” Eli Malka, head of the Golan Regional Council, said in a statement on Sunday night. “Alongside the IDF’s humanitarian activities in recent days, I have ordered the opening of a center for collecting supplementary equipment, to let the refugees live in a humane way.”

Malka explained that the Israeli communities in the Golan Heights have responded very positively to the appeal, and are continuing to donate in significant quantities. Once collected, the toys and clothes will be picked up by the IDF, who will in turn transfer them to the Syrians.