In a joint effort of Israeli and Syrian authorities, a Druze doctor on Thursday was brought to burial in Israel after living in Syria for the past 30 years. The doctor, Afif Jamal al A'aur, was born in the Golan Heights village of Bukata and passed away last Monday. He was in his 50s. The deceased was transferred to Israel via the Red Cross and was laid to rest in his native village.
In 1977, al A'aur left his village and moved to Syria in order to attend medical school. His parents and brothers stayed behind. After completing his studies, al A'aur married in Syria and had two children.
After 1982, he was forbidden to return to Israel and began working as a doctor in the Druze village of Suwayda, near Damascus.
Once receiving word of al A'aur's death, his family members turned to Israeli authorities and requested that they allow their loved one to be buried in Israel. The family members turned to Deputy Minister of the Development of the Negev and Galilee Ayoob Kara, who initiated talks with representatives of the Red Cross as well as the ministries of interior, defense and health.
"As part of efforts to boost relations and open the Quneitra Crossing for humanitarian and economic purposes, as well as for the passage of religious figures, students and apples from the northern Golan Heights to Syria, there was a true willingness to allow a deceased person's body to be returned for burial in his native village," said Kara.
"In recent years, there have been a number of requests that have been denied, but this time I was happy that we were able to make the family's dream come true," he added.
"For us it is joy mixed with sadness," said al A'aur's family member. "We haven't seen him in 30 years, since he left to study medicine. We are at least consoled by the fact that he will be buried in his birthplace, where he spent the beginning of his life."
IDF sources stated that al A'aur's body was permitted to be returned to Israel as a humanitarian gesture and with full permission and cooperation of the Red Cross.