If you thought Israel’s medical mission to Haiti after the earthquake was just PR then think again.
There has been a continuous presence there since January this year and now, as the JP reports, in response to the cholera epidemic, Israel is sending a medical unit.
Israel has joined other countries in efforts to help disaster-stricken Haiti with its cholera epidemic and will open a new intensive care unit in the north of the island, reported Israel Radio on Thursday.
The Foreign Ministry’s humanitarian aid unit has gathered the necessary equipment for the project and will begin transferring it to Haiti in the coming weeks.
UN Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos said Haiti needs at least a hundred doctors and a thousand nurses to deal with the epidemic. More than 1,000 people have died in Haiti since the outbreak of Cholera five weeks ago.
A year after the earthquake there is little sign of rebuilding. No-one is blockading Haiti and there are no smuggling tunnels to the Dominican Republic. The situation is truly disgraceful and an indictment of the priorities of the UN.
As usual, when it comes to international aid efforts, Israel punches above its weight.
Remember the tremendous international effort to help earlier this year after an earthquake devastated the capital, Port au Prince?
Remember who was first to set up a field hospital? The Israel Defence Force medical team.
The IDF has gone but IsraAid, the Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid has been there since January and have recently sent another team to assess the cholera risk following a hurricane which the embattled people of Haiti recently suffered.
The team is preparing to meet the cholera outbreak which threatens to reach Port au Prince and its outskirts causing the death of over 200 people. IsraAID medical staff on the ground have been attending UN meetings to discuss the affect of the cholera on its Israeli aid programs in the region.
The team will gauge the impact of ongoing projects undertaken by two IsraAID member organizations – Tevel B’Tzedek and the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development (NISPED).
IsraAID has had Israeli staff on the ground in Haiti since January 16 – four days after the earthquake. Over this ten-month period, IsraAID teams have provided various essential services to thousands affected by the earthquake, including emergency medical treatment, primary family medical care, medical rehabilitation, informal education, food production, women empowerment and children safe-spaces programs.
From Haiti the team will travel to New Orleans to participate in November’s upcoming General Assembly in New Orleans. IsraAID will bring to the Assembly one of the IDF medical tents that was used in Haiti. The tent was then donated to IsraAID, which turned it into the first official school operating in the camps of Port au Prince, Haiti.
The IDF spokesperson announced today that the IDF medical and rescue missions in Haiti would end tomorrow.
Their achievements are immense.
The IDF Medical and Rescue team, including personnel and equipment for setting up a field hospital and a small rescue team, left for Haiti 11 days ago, on January 15th 2010, and had a significant role in providing aid to survivors of the earthquake.
During their stay in Haiti, the delegation treated more than 960 patients, conducted 294 successful surgeries, delivered 16 births including three in caesarian sections and saved many from within the ruins.
In the last few days, after most rescue operations were concluded, much of the delegation’s efforts were turned to other forms of civilian assistance, including setting up water tanks assisting daily life, and more.
The IDF Medical Corps and Home Front Command will hold a series of briefings following the activity in Haiti in order to improve its preparedness for similar future events.
I like the last paragraph. No complacency here and a clear commitment to meet future world crises.
I will end my Haiti posts with this, unless something significant come sup in the days ahead.
I have been proud of Israel in the past, many times and I have also been less proud on some occasions, but I can’t think of a week in which that pride has been so unalloyed.
There is a saying in Hebrew – Kol HaKavod – which is not easily translatable but roughly means ‘Well done, good job.’
Kol Hakovod to all the Israeli teams and Kol Hakavod to all the men and women from all over the world who gave assistance. Let us hope that Haiti can come out of this tragedy and build a better society. But they now know they have a friend in Israel.
Yesterday IsraAID sent a second medical team to Haiti. According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Israel is
working in partnership with other international teams to assess the situation in the surrounding hill area and to determine the medical needs on the ground including post-trauma interventions and with the movement of victims to refugee camps the purchase of additional relief items to sustain them.
The Israeli MFA issued a long communique today listing a full assessment of all the aid that Israel agencies have sent since disaster struck Haiti more than a week ago.
The media have shown coverage of, and expressed admiration for the Israeli field hospitals. The MFA lists the following news reports:
News reports on Israeli aid mission: - Fox News (16 Jan): Makeshift ICU saving lives in Haiti
– AP Video (16 Jan): Israeli pulls man from rubble in Port-au- Prince
-Fox News (17Jan): Israeli doctors in Haiti
– Sky News (17 Jan): Sky reporter spends a day in the rubble with Israeli rescue team
– IBA News (17 Jan): Israeli rescue team in Haiti
– LA Times (17 Jan): Israel: Sending soldiers of peace to Haiti
– TF1 (17): Les miraculés de Port-au-Prince
– CBS News (18 Jan): Israeli IDF hospital the “Rolls Royce” of medicine in Haiti
– ABC News (18 Jan): Miracle birth amid Haiti’s rubble
– WABC News (18 Jan): Brother of Queens NY resident rescued from rubble by Israeli rescue team
– U.N. MINUSTAH (Jan 18): Haiti: Israeli field hospital working around the clock
– NBC News (18 Jan):Medical response in Haiti
– CNN report (18 Jan): Patients desperate for better medical care
– NBC News (19 Jan): Field hospital a model for crisis care
– CNN report (19 Jan): Israel aids Haiti – Israeli field hospital in Haiti has treated hundreds of patients
Reports on UK TV, especially ITV, have shown the work of the IDF medical teams including a moving piece about a maternity ward the IDF medics had set up.
Yesterday the BBC showed an Israeli officer reporting on a survivor they had pulled out but although the officer spoke with a clear Israeli accent and had an Israeli flag badge on his uniform the BBC did not mention the fact that he was Israeli. The reporter was Orla Guerin, so no surprise there.
A couple of YouTube videos from the MFA report:
IDF Medical Team
IDF Rescue Team
This is the same IDF that has been accused of war crimes in Gaza.
This disaster has show the best of Israel and also the best of mankind with so many countries providing help and aid. Israel has just 7 million people and is several thousand miles from Haiti. This is a proud time for Israelis. This is the true face of Israel and the Jewish people. Nothing better expresses why the world should be supporting the Jewish State instead of trying to destroy it. Nothing better exposes the lies of Israel’s enemies than the Israeli actions in Haiti.
An Israeli rescue team worked for 8 hours to save a man’s life.
‘He who saves a life it is as if he saved the entire world’. The Israelis are certainly doing a wonderful job.
Here is an IDF rescue on YouTube
I was particularly gratified to see the Israel effort given prominence on an Arab website – OK, it was under their Palestine section and Israel doesn’t appear to exist for them, but it was good to see anyway. Thanks to dvardea for this link (http://www.albawaba.com/en/countries/Palestine/259537).
The Israeli medical personnel of IsraAID have been operating in Port-au-Prince for the last 4 days, both within the government hospital in the city as well as outside the facility.
The 15 members of the team have been asked by Operation Blessing, its partner on the ground, to operate in a local football stadium where over 2,000 injured people have been gathering who are in need of emergency medical aid. Upon arrival, the team was greeted by thousands of wounded people, and more started to arrive as word spread that a medical team was in place and treating people.
“The situation is horrible, there is no doctor in sight, people are hungry and wounded. There are constant waves of injured people coming to the stadium” said Alan Schneider, a delegation member.
Due to the growing need for assistance, IsraAID/FIRST will be sending an additional team of 12 medical and logistical staff during the coming weekend into the field to increase the ability to respond to the emergency. Medical and other urgent supplies will be purchased in the Dominican Republic and some of the items arriving from the US will be used as well.
So the magnificent Israeli response to this tragedy continues and will increase.
Some heart-rending but also heart-warming stories have emerged over he past few days about the really terrible situation in Haiti. So many countries responding in very difficult circumstances.
Israel has taken so much bad press in recent months that it gives me, as a Jew, and a Zionist, an enormous sense of pride to see that whatever the issues are in Israel politically, whatever the attempts to demonize and delegitimize the State, whatever lies and half-truths, double-standards, blind hatred, genocidal rhetoric are used against it, there is still a deep, deep, thread of humanitarianism which lies at the core of the Jewish-ness both secular and religious.
Nowhere is this seen to better affect when disaster strikes anywhere in the world and Jewish and Israeli charities and organisations are mobilized not for propaganda but because it is an essential and abiding element of Jewish belief and consciousness to help our fellow man.
Here are some stories which are a moving tribute to the State of Israel and its people:
A story in the Jerusalem Post Jan 17th 2010 ‘Rescuers describe ‘Shabbat from hell‘. The IDF, that’s the Israeli Army has set up a field hospital in Port au Prince and within a few hours was treating dozens of patients.
Children with severe fractures set only with cardboard arrived at the hospital for treatment. Some young patients had been freed from rubble but had to have limbs amputated due to severe gangrene, he said. Within a few hours, operations were performed….
The Israeli facility, set up in very hot and humid weather, has enough equipment to function for about two weeks. The 121-member team has 40 doctors, including a psychiatrist, 20 nurses, 20 paramedics and medics, 20 lab and X-ray technicians and administrators.
The report tells us that many of the medical team are Orthodox Jews who travelled on the Jewish Sabbath, something which is normally completely against Jewish belief but when evem a single life can be saved then the Sabbath laws can be broken.
The official IDF bulletin tells us:
The field hospital is prepared to receive dozens of ambulances evacuating injured children from the different disaster struck areas. Between Friday night and Saturday, dozens of truckloads of medical and logistical equipment were unloaded and the field hospital set up.
The Israeli delegation landed in the capital of Port-Au-Prince yesterday evening and has located itself in a soccer field near the air port. Upon arrival, C4I teams deployed communications infrastructure in preparations for the hospital’s establishment.
Two teams, comprised of search and rescue personnel and canine operators from the IDF canine unit were sent out on rescue missions. The first team was sent to the Haiti UN headquarters in order to assist in rescuing survivors.
The ZAKA organisation (which was formed to deal with the aftermath of suicide bombings in Israel and other terrorist acts in Israel, but then extended its reach to make itself available throughout the world to help deal with the dead and injured of natural disasters via its Search and Rescue arm) is also an Orthodox Jewish organisation. On this occasion they were prepared to deal with the dead but ended up:
pull(ing) eight students alive from the collapsed university building, after a 38 (hour) operation
Perhaps only a Jew can fully appreciate the extreme emotion that the story of what followed evinces, but I’m sure no-one can fail to be moved by this:
Amid the stench and chaos, the ZAKA delegation took time out to recite Shabbat prayers – a surreal sight of haredi men wrapped in prayer shawls standing on the collapsed buildings. Many locals sat quietly in the rubble, staring at the men as they prayed facing Jerusalem.
At the end of the prayers, they crowded around the delegation and kissed the prayer shawls.
Overnight Saturday, in what staff described as one of the most fulfilling moments of their work, the Israeli doctors delivered a baby boy, whose mother, Gubilande Jean Michel, promptly declared would be named “Israel.”
How appropriate that the work, compassion and dedication of Israelis will be remembered and recalled throughout this boy’s lifetime in his very name.
IsraAID has headed for the hospital:
Just minutes after landing in the airport in Port-au-prince the IsraAID team was met by David Darg, Operation Blessing Director in the field and his staff and joined with them to unload a planeload of food and medical equipment.
The Israeli medical professionals of IsraAID – F.I.R.S.T. traveled to the main Port-au-prince Hospital to start treating patients, joining local physicians at the site of the collapsed central hospital where thousands of wounded have gathered desperate for help.
“The scenes in the hospital were horrible we saw people everywhere on the floors in the building and outside, people with amputations and bone-deep wounds, hundreds of them, the size of the catastrophe is unbelievable. All of the injured were treated until we came by only one local doctor and we were the first foreign backup team to operate in the hospital.” Said Nurse Sheva Cohen from Kibbutz Ein Yahav in the Negev
When the team arrived at the hospital they found most of the injured outside the building laying in beds in the building’s garden, probably out of fear of aftershocks and further collapse. The IsraAID team set up treatment rooms in four empty rooms, treating 60 patients with IV and administered medicine. While in the hospital, an infant with 60% burns died and bodies that had not yet been removed for burial were piled up in back.
In the meantime, the logistical personnel remain in the airport area to set up camp and assist local NGO partners with logistical support for relief items that were continuing to land.
Currently the teams are working around the clock to provide assistance to the injured. In light of the scale of the disaster, IsraAID is currently focused on expanding the scale of its operation, preparing an additional team that would be sent next week.
At the beginning of his cabinet meeting this week Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said:
I think that this is in the best tradition of the Jewish People; this is the true covenant of the State of Israel and the Jewish People. This follows operations we have carried out in Kenya and Turkey; despite being a small country, we have responded with a big heart. The fact is, I know, that this was an expression of our Jewish heritage and the Jewish ethic of helping one’s fellow. I hope that the team saves lives and that Haiti succeeds in recovering from this awful tragedy.
There is a long, long way to go for the Haitian people but they can count on the Jewish People and Israel to help them in their time of dire need.
The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has just issued this communique:
IDF Humanitarian Aid Delegation Scheduled to Depart to Haiti Crisis Zone
Later tonight or early tomorrow morning, an IDF delegation is scheduled to depart from the Ben Gurion International Airport on board two leased airplanes in order to provide medical care and services to victims of the earthquake in the Republic of Haiti.
Brig Gen. (Res.) Shalom Ben-Arye, the Commander of Home Front Command’s National Search and Rescue Unit will head the IDF delegation and Col. Dr. Itzik Kryse will serve as his deputy as well as the head of the medical team and the hospital commander.
The IDF delegation will construct a field hospital in the disaster area that will include 220 personnel, among them Home Front Command rescue teams and IDF Medical Corps teams.
The field hospital will include 40 doctors, 25 nurses, paramedics, a pharmacy, a children’s ward, a radiology department, an intensive care unit, an emergency room, two operating rooms, a surgical department, an internal department and a maternity ward.
The hospital can treat approximately 500 patients each day, and in addition will perform preliminary surgeries, and will house approximately ten tons of equipment.
The Home Front command forces will include 30 rescue workers, task force intelligence, logistics forces and a communications department, in addition to search and rescue and population aid experts from the Home Front Commands Search and Rescue Unit.
On Tuesday, a preliminary force of five people left for Haiti, for the purpose of establishing a status assessment of the crisis zone for the expanded delegation and will coordinate the majority of the activity until the arrival of the Israeli delegation including transportation, hospital location, food, etc.
In addition to the hospital and the medical team, the delegation will include a logistics branch, a security force and a search and identify force, among others.
The delegation is expected to stay in Haiti for two weeks. In those two weeks, forces will conduct a status assessment regarding the possible need for further stay.
The delegation will also include a media pool of reporters (Israeli television cameraman, a radio reporter, print reporter, and one international reporter).
Today, as instructed by OC Home Front Command Maj. Gen Yair Golan, all members of the delegation will be given vaccines and a detailed briefing regarding the mission and the actions needed to ensure their personal safety.
Over the years, the Home Front Command has operated in several major crisis zones in the world, acquiring high level skills, both technologically and in the ability to find creative solutions:
Below are a number of examples of the Home Front Command’s missions abroad:
Car bomb explosion at the China Hilton Hotel in October, 2004 – Immediately after receiving the initial details of the attack, the Search and Rescue Unit was called to the scene in order to rescue those trapped in the hotel ruins. The staff began intensive activity at the site of the incident in order to evacuate the injured and locate the persons trapped in the ruins.
Kenya 2003 – An aid delegation, headed by the outgoing OC – Home Front Command at the time, Brig. Gen. Eitan Dangot departed for Mombassa following a terror attack at the Paradise Hotel. Dozens were injured, among them 21 Israeli citizens. The mission intended to provide medical aid to those injured in the hotel and to return the Israeli citizens back home at the fastest possible speed. After 12 hours, 270 Israeli citizens were returned to Israel.
Aid to victims of the earthquake in Northwestern Turkey 1999 – Two Search and Rescue delegations were sent to Turkey following the disaster and a field hospital was constructed. The delegation rescued 12 survivors and 140 victims. The field hospital in Adapazari serviced 1200 injured patients, performed 40 surgeries and delivered 15 babies.
Greece 1999 – Assisting in the search and rescue mission following an earthquake in September 1999.
Car bomb explosion at the American Embassy in Kenya in August, 1998 – Following the explosion of a car bomb in close proximity of the American Embassy in Kenya, the Search and Rescue Unit worked to locate and evacuate 96 victims. The Israeli delegation received appreciation and recognition from the Kenyan and world public. The Israeli delegation was the first to arrive on the scene from abroad and began its mission immediately.
Bombing of the Jewish community building in Argentina, June 1994- In which the building collapsed as a result of a car bomb. Over nine days of intensive efforts, the Rescue unit, in cooperation with additional rescue forces, was able to rescue those trapped, among them 81 dead.
Earthquake in Armenia, December 1988- The Search and Rescue Unit, in cooperation with additional forces, operated for 12 days in an attempt to rescue those trapped under the ruins of buildings that collapsed.
Earthquake in Mexico, September 1985- The Search and Rescue Unit, in cooperation with additional forces, operated for 16 days in an attempt to rescue those trapped under the ruins of buildings that collapsed (55 people).
These IDF war criminals seem to have a terrible track record!
Today the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs made this announcement:
Israel wishes to express its solidarity with the Government and people of Haiti during this great disaster. We send our condolences to the families of the casualties, and wish the injured a speedy recovery.
Israel is doing all in its power to help the people of Haiti cope with the disaster in their country. A 220-person delegation, headed by Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials, will leave this evening (Thursday, 14 January 2009) for Port-Au-Prince on two Boeing 747 jets leased from El Al by the IDF. The relief package includes a Home Front Command field hospital and rescue unit, as well as teams from Magen David Adom and Israel Police.
Israel’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Amos Radian, is currently in Port-Au-Prince, where he is coordinating Israel’s contribution with local authorities and international aid agencies.
This is, perhaps, another example of Israel making a disproportionate response? After all, for a small county of some 7 million this is a massive response and fully in keeping with the country’s moral traditions which it has exercised many times in the past.
I have not yet discovered what the response of Israel’s near neighbours or even not so near neighbours has been? I’m happy to be enlightened.