VICE News has launched a five-part video news series entitled "The War Next Door" which gives a rare, behind the scenes glimpse of how the IDF has involved itself in the bloody conflict in Syria – by treating alleged Syrian rebels, some of which would be considered Israel's enemy on any other day.
VICE News reporter Simon Ostrovsky accompanied an IDF special unit that gathers injured Syrian rebels on the Israel-Syria border at night and, when necessary, brings the injured into Israeli territory to treat them in Israeli hospitals. The report marks the first time in which the IDF has let journalists witness such events.
The video shows the IDF unit traveling the area between Syria and Israel at the dead of night after reports that four individuals were spotted in the area during military observations and intelligence gathering.
The commander tells the soldiers that their senses will be the only thing that can save them as they embark on their mission in the darkness of the night, not knowing if the men they find will be enemies or friends.
The first report comes in via radio of an injured man taken in by the unit who suffered stomach and chest wounds from firearms – most likely from the day before, says the female soldier riding in the IDF medical van.
The IDF soldiers later locate two other wounded Syrians, and eventually determine that all of them require further medical treatment in a nearby Israeli hospital.
One of the wounded can be seen shaking and in the background the IDF female medic explains that he has lost sensation in his legs after suffering a fracture. As the IDF van transfers the men to an Israeli hospital, one of the IDF soldiers tries to comfort the wounded man in Arabic, telling him everything will be okay.
The VICE report claims that the medical aid given to alleged Syrian rebels by the IDF offers proof that Israel has sided with the Syrian rebels in the conflict which has sparked a bloody civil war between Syrian president Bashar Assad's army and several Syrian rebel factions – among them the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra Front .
Part two, which was aired Thursday, provided interviews with the wounded Syrian rebels found and treated by the IDF in the first episode. One of the rebels tells Ostrovsky that the Al-Nusra Front is "not that bad" and that it doesn’t oppress Syrians, but rather "helps fight" the Syrian regime.
The VICE report sites a UN report which said that the IDF has allowed entry of non-wounded Syrian rebels into Israel. Yet, officially, Israel says that it has only involved itself in humanitarian matters. While Israel maintains it has only intervened on a humanitarian basis, Israel was allegedly behind an airstrike a week ago which targeted an arms depot run by President al-Assad's brother.
The VICE reporter poses the question: What is Israel getting out of this relationship?