The Syrian regime’s unrelenting bombing campaign in Eastern Aleppo has finally, and predictably, led to the fall of the city. Along with killing and wounding countless citizens, the regime’s assault on the city concluded in the wholesale expulsion of its residents, who have been besieged since 2012.
The urgency of Aleppo’s impending fall ignited a global, albeit scattered, effort to provide the injured and displaced with food, medical aid, and other basic supplies. For example, the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) launched a Facebook fundraiser in order “[t]o help treat the civilian victims of the air strikes and shelling in besieged Aleppo, and to serve the medical needs of the people displaced from eastern Aleppo.” In the days since its launch, and with nearly one week left to donate, the campaign has successfully raised approximately $1.5 million.
Notably, Qatar—which has for long interfered in the Syrian conflict on behalf of the rebels—announced it would cancel its National Day celebration in solidarity with the victims of Aleppo. In coordination with five of the country’s biggest charity organizations, the Qatari government launched a fundraiser similar to that of SAMS. The fundraiser reportedly generated over $650 million in donations in a matter of hours, according to Doha News.
Perhaps the most curious offer to help the besieged victims of Aleppo comes from Israel, however. According to Haaretz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Tuesday, December 20, that the Foreign Ministry would “explore ways of increasing the humanitarian aid that Israel provides to Syrian civilians wounded during the civil war in that country, particularly in the battle for Syria’s largest city Aleppo.” Netanyahu also said Israel would look into “bringing wounded civilians from Aleppo to Israel for treatment in Israeli hospitals.”
With a disastrously inhumane, seven-decades-old occupation on its hands, however, Israel is hardly interested in aiding Syrians for genuinely humanitarian reasons. Indeed, while Netanyahu offers his country’s hospitals to needy Aleppans, his government has actively restricted Palestinians, which it has bombed and brutalized, from the same luxury. In particular, Palestinians in Gaza are regularly denied access to Israeli hospitals, even in the aftermath of Israeli-led bombing campaigns that have killed thousands.
Above all else, the real reason Israel is interested in “helping” Syrians is to preserve the moribund idea that it is the only country in the region with truly humanistic and democratic values. Offering to help Syrians is not only an easy endeavor for Israel, but also its preference—it helps draw attention away from its cruelty toward the Palestinians by highlighting its purported generosity elsewhere.
But, Israel’s double standards are quite clear. No amount of help Israel offers to Syrians will veil its despotism toward the Palestinians, nor will it build long-term favor with the Syrian people against their Palestinian comrades. Indeed, Israel’s actions are nothing more than an attempt to ride the waves of opportunism.