Syria’s Humanitarian Crisis
Delivered to a Special Session of the Security Council by Ambassador Ron Prosor on 25 February 2014
Thank you Mr. President,
I commend the Security Council on the unanimous adoption of Resolution 2139 demanding that aid be allowed to flow into Syria. That said, passing international resolutions should not be confused with demonstrating international resolve.
Winston Churchill famously said, “It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.”
What began as peaceful protests against an authoritarian regime almost three years ago has turned into a brutal and protracted conflict that has claimed over 130,000 lives. Death has become a way of life for the Syrian people.
The depth of Bashar al-Assad’s brutality knows no bounds. Not satisfied at having murdered his citizens with chemical weapons, snipers and barrel bombs, the regime is now intentionally blocking medical assistance, food supplies, and other critical aid to people living under siege.
There are no safe havens for civilians - the regime is attacking schools, hospitals and residential neighborhoods. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised. The Syrian regime’s murderous rampage is being underwritten by the undertakers of Tehran. The Iranian regime is supplying Syria with the funding, troops and weapons to provoke and prolong the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Iran and Syria have defied every code of morality. One has to ask how it’s possible that in this day and age, starvation and rape are being employed as weapons of war.
As a father, I am haunted by the image of a Syrian father holding up his dead child and crying out in vain for help. And as a father, I am haunted by the knowledge that one day my own children and grandchildren will ask why we didn’t do more to help the people of Syria.
Countless families have been shattered by the violence. Every day I read new stories of the desperation and despair - elderly people wasting away from hunger, pregnant women desperate for medical attention, husbands who have disappeared without a trace, and children traumatized by grotesque violence.
I recently read about two young brothers, ages 10 and 8, who were playing marbles outside their home. While they played a rocket fell in their yard and decapitated the older boy and gravely injured the younger one. When the mother arrived at the local hospital with her surviving son, she was told: “If you want to save your son, you should take him to Israel.”
It doesn’t matter where you come from, what faith you belong to, or what politics you preach - no decent human being can ignore the humanitarian tragedy in Syria. The State of Israel and the Jewish people have suffered too much in the past to be indifferent to the suffering of another people today.
For this reason, we are one of the few countries providing direct humanitarian aid to victims of Syria’s civil war. Israel is supplying women, children and the elderly in besieged and embattled villages with food and emergency supplies. The IDF has even built a field hospital to save Syrian lives because many victims are so badly injured that they would not survive the trip to hospital.
More than 700 Syrians have received treatment from Israelis and we continue to extend our hand to assist those in need. Syrians who are normally bitterly divided - Sunnis, Alawites and Shiites - know that Israel will treat anyone without prejudice and regardless of ethnicity, religion or gender.
Generations of Syrians have grown up being taught that Israel is the enemy, but today many have changed their outlook. One Syrian treated in Israel said (and I quote): “When we saw the [Israelis we realized] they were nothing like what we’d been told. They’re human beings just like us.”
This lesson has come at a terrible price. Every day, the Syrian people wake up and realize that their nightmare has not ended. Every day brings more torment, more torture, and more terror. And every day more innocent lives are lost.
Finally, I would like to thank the Egyptians for distracting attention from a serious humanitarian crisis. Today they sunk to new lows by raising the issue of the Golan Heights. It is nothing short of absurd for them to suggest that even more innocent citizens be subject to Assad’s brutality.
It’s clear that some delegations must reset their moral compass and direct their efforts to providing the Syrian people with real assistance and support.
Thank you Mr. President.