In times of humanitarian crises anywhere in the world, Israel has developed a reputation of having unique expertise in offering much-needed assistance – particularly in terms of search and rescue and emergency medicine – more quickly than anyone else. This was exemplified by the fact that, as of Monday, Israel had sent more emergency personnel to earthquake-ravaged Nepal than any other country. The magnitude 7.8 earthquake which struck on Saturday has devastated large parts of the mountainous country causing at least 5,000 deaths and the number expected to climb much higher.
According to figures from CNN, Israel’s official aid delegation, not counting private groups, is 260. By comparison, the next biggest, with 68, is the United Kingdom. Israel’s team includes 40 medical personnel and the country’s top specialists in traumatic injuries. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli search and rescue delegation “This is the real face of Israel – a country which does all in its power in such moments.”
One of their priorities has been to set up a field hospital to receive and provide care for around 200 patients a day near the Nepalese capital Kathmandu. “The team brought the most recent technology possible,” explains Lt. Col. Asi Hempel, a doctor in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Medical Corps. “The field hospital will be equipped with everything: x-rays, operating rooms that will work 24/7, laboratories and more.” Israel is donating it to Nepal.
Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and the Nepalese Army’s Chief of Staff Gen Gaurav SJB Rana visited the field hospital to attend its opening ceremony and to thank the Israelis. Prime Minister Koirala said “A friend in need is a friend indeed. Israel is here when we need it and we appreciate it. I am certain that the wounded Nepalese will get here a first rate best medical care.”
On Thursday, an Israeli led team miraculously rescued 24 year old Nepalese woman, Krishna Devi Khadka, who was under rubble in a collapsed hotel in Kathmandu for five days. Workers from the Israeli humanitarian aid agency, IsraAID, worked for 10 hours to pull her to safety. She was then taken to the Israeli field hospital.
Israel also leads in its efforts to rescue its stranded citizens. About 2,000 Israelis were in Nepal when the earthquake hit, but just one Israeli citizen remains unaccounted for.
Examples of Israel’s altruism throughout the world are too numerous to list. According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Israel has provided humanitarian aid to a staggering 140 countries in the last 54 years.
When the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan in 2011, Israel was the first country to dispatch a field hospital to assist in the recovery effort.
Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, a 220 strong team of IDF rescue and medical staff played a major role in the international aid effort.
In 2003, in the wake of the Iranian earthquake, Israel was the first country to offer assistance. This is despite the Iranian Government wanting to drive Israel into the sea.
After the 9/11 attacks, Israeli pathologists aided the Americans at Ground Zero.
In 1999, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey. Israel sent 350 search and rescue specialists with a team of dogs that were at work the morning after the quake.
In 1994, the Israelis ran a paediatric field hospital in Rwanda during the Rwandan Genocide.
In 1979, Israel sent a delegation of medical staff to provide medical relief to the displaced people in Cambodia following the downfall of the maniacal Pol Pot.
There is a tragic reason why Israel has this unique ability to offer such help so readily – terrorism. In Israel, there is an incredible quality and vast array of research, innovations and new techniques for assisting the victims of terrorism return to a semblance of normal life.
While it will take the Himalayan nation of Nepal years to recover from this disaster and restored to normalcy, Israel’s magnanimous humanitarian efforts in the frontline, saving lives and treating the victims, have made a tangible difference.
Watch this YouTube video of the Israeli humanitarian mission arriving in Nepal.