Israeli soldiers have been ferrying humanitarian aid to civilians in war-torn Syria, one of Israel’s leading diplomats told an audience at Limmud FSU.

Dani Dayan, consul general of Israel in New York, told a standing-room-only session that soldiers both in and out of uniform were risking their lives taking food, medical equipment, blankets and clothing to victims of the ongoing conflict.

“They have even ripped labels in Ivrit out of clothing so that the people receiving them are not put at risk,” he told a hushed room.

This was in addition to medical treatment given to hundreds of Syrian casualties in the past three years by hospitals in northern Israel, he added.

In a wide-ranging address, he said that the shekel was now one of the world’s strongest currencies and that those who had thought Israel might become isolated were wrong.

Economically and techno-logically, he continued, Israel was doing very well.

He took his audience on a brief world tour of countries which a quarter of a century ago had little or nothing to do with Israel, but are now significant trading partners. Examples quoted included India, China, Argentina, Brazil and a number of countries in Africa with whom Israel now had important trade agreements in place.

However, other than an alliance with Mediterranean neighbours Greece and Cyprus, he failed to mention the European Union.

When asked why, he conceded that it was a “weak spot”. The main economic contacts were with East European countries, he noted, while others tended to be with individual countries rather than the European bloc as a whole.