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Israeli border hospital treating wounded Syrians

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Syrian teen, Ahmed, lost both of his legs in a bomb blast. He's being treated in an Israeli hospital, even though the two countries have been in a state of war since 1948. (Source: CNN) Syrian teen, Ahmed, lost both of his legs in a bomb blast. He's being treated in an Israeli hospital, even though the two countries have been in a state of war since 1948. (Source: CNN)
Ahmed's mother is happy that he's receiving new legs, but sad that they're "not the legs God created for him." (Source: CNN) Ahmed's mother is happy that he's receiving new legs, but sad that they're "not the legs God created for him." (Source: CNN)
An Israeli teen was killed recently near the Golan Heights. It was the first Israeli death in the war in Syria. (Source: CNN) An Israeli teen was killed recently near the Golan Heights. It was the first Israeli death in the war in Syria. (Source: CNN)
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(CNN) – Israel and Syria have long been bitter enemies. But as Syria's civil war rages on, a border hospital in Israel is treating wounded Syrians who have nowhere else to go. It's a gesture that's part altruistic and part political.

A bomb blast in Syria cost 14-year-old Ahmed both of his legs and his best friend. His face can't be shown because his mother doesn't want him to be seen being treated in a hospital in Israel, Syria's decades-old archenemy.

The staff at the Ziv Hospital in northern Israel is fitting Ahmed with prosthetic legs and he took his first, hesitant steps in two months. His mother watches, overcome with emotion.

"I am happy, but at the same time sad about what happened to him," Ahmed's mother said. "Those are not the legs God created for him."

Ahmed has picked up a smattering of Hebrew, and a new attitude toward his hosts.

"They said Israelis are our enemy," Ahmed said. "But they're nice."

Need, not nationality, is what counts.

"It is something that we do because of our principles and beliefs," Dr. Oscar Embon said. "And even I don't know if they will do the same for us in the opposite situation but it is something I need to because of my values."

More than 300 Syrians have been treated at this hospital. But there's more to this relationship than pure altruism.

Syria and Israel have been officially in a state of war since 1948. And a newly established artillery battery on the Golan Heights underscores that no one expects that state of war to come to an end any time soon.

Israel has fought three full-blown wars, and a variety of major skirmishes, with Syria over the years.

Earlier this week, an Israeli teenager was killed when an anti-tank missile struck the car he was in, near the fence that separates the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Syria. It was the first Israeli fatality from the war in Syria.

Israel has watched warily as the fighting has raged on the other side of the fence, a war pitting the regime of Bashar al-Assad against an increasingly radicalized opposition dominated by Islamist ultra-hardliners.

"We don't want to have those people, those crazy jihadist people on our border, definitely not."

Former Army Intelligence Analyst Jacques Naria says Israel prefers its old enemy, blemishes and all.

"I said it from day one: That is was better to have a secular regime, a Baathist regime, that is, ok, a tyrant, a repressive, human rights, whatever you say, to have this guy rather than have all these bearded guys, who have no rule at all, who claim to rule by the Sharia."

Better the devil you know than the devil you don't.

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