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Israeli hospital treats wounded from Syria

From Sara Sidner, Kareem Khadder, and Josh Levs, CNN
February 17, 2013 -- Updated 1740 GMT (0140 HKT)
Ziv Medical Center Director Oscar Embon said the hospital treated people regardless of religion, race or nationality.
Ziv Medical Center Director Oscar Embon said the hospital treated people regardless of religion, race or nationality.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Israeli hospital is treating seven people injured in the civil war in Syria
  • The hospital "cannot confirm" whether they are from the opposition or the military
  • They are under guard for protection
  • At least 61 people were killed Sunday in the war in Syria, according to an opposition group

Jerusalem (CNN) -- An Israeli hospital is treating people wounded in Syria, where civil war has killed thousands and wounded thousands more.

Ziv Medical Center in Safed, Israel, "cannot confirm" whether the seven Syrians being treated are from the Syrian opposition or the military, said Dr. Oscar Embon, the hospital's director.

"We treat patients regardless of religion, race, nationality and give the best care we can provide," Embon said.

The Syrians are under guard for their own protection, he said.

Israeli doctors frequently treat people from groups with which Israel has tensions, or even is engaged in conflict. In November, CNN visited an Israeli hospital treating an Israeli child and a Palestinian child, both wounded in warfare between Israel and militants in Gaza.

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Ziv Medical Center treated soldiers and a Syrian pilot during the 1982 Israeli war with Lebanon, hospital officials said.

It's unclear what will ultimately happen to the seven Syrians. After treatment at the hospital, they will be returned to the Israeli military, which brought them in for help, and they will need rehabilitation, Embon said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman told CNN the Israel Defense Forces "provided medical care to seven injured Syrians adjacent to the security fence between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights, and the wounded were transferred to an Israeli hospital for further treatment."

Embon said one of the seven patients is in severe condition in an intensive care unit. He was to undergo surgery Sunday.

The other six have moderate injuries and had surgery Saturday night. Five have bone fractures in extremities; the sixth has a vascular injury.

The six are in stable condition. Some will need further operations, Embon said.

All will be at the hospital for at least a week; some will need to remain longer, Embon said.

He did not know whether other Syrians will be brought for treatment.

Ziv Medical Center is in northern Israel, close to the Syrian border. "We are used to treating trauma patients," said Embon. "There is a geographical and professional reason for that." Many hospital employees speak Arabic, he added.

Asked how the Syrians are responding to being treated in an Israeli hospital, Embon said only that their reaction "is reasonable."

Last month, Israeli fighter jets struck a Syrian convoy suspected of moving weapons to the militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon, a senior U.S. official said. Israeli Defense MInister Ehud Barak did not explicitly confirm or deny such an attack, but called the event "another proof that when we say something we mean it -- we say that we don't think that it should be allowable to bring advanced weapon systems into Lebanon."

Syria's government-run news agency SANA called Barak's statement "an overt hint that the aggression came in implementation of the Israeli threats uttered lately under the pretext of targeting 'a weapons shipment.'"

The death toll in the Syrian war is probably approaching 70,000, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said last week.

At least 61 "martyrs" were killed Sunday, the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said.

Syria, which blames the violence on "terrorists," said Sunday its military "inflicted heavy losses" on them.

The United Nations and numerous countries, including the United States, have called on Syria to end its brutal crackdown on opposition fighters and called on all sides to halt the violence.

CNN's Sara Sidner and Kareem Khadder reported from Jerusalem; CNN's Josh Levs reported from Atlanta.

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