Monthly Archives: September 2017

On Rosh Hashana Israel Defense Forces Sends Humanitarian Team To Mexico

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

UPDATE: September 28 … Israel Saving Lives!
Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomes home aid mission to .

 

UPDATES: September 27 … Mexico’s Sec. of Foreign Affairs, , thanked the for their work to help the people of Mexico in their time of need.

UPDATES: September 25 … 

 

 

IDF: “To the people of Mexico – without your love and support we would not have the motivation to continue working, search and rescue 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

 

UPDATES: September 24 …

Israel Defense Forces: “One of the main goals is to help return civilians
to buildings that were evacuated.
delegation will survey 1,000 buildings!

 

“Thanks for coming to help! Shana Tova!
Here in Mexico, everyone thanks you.” – Mexican children wrote notes to the #IDFAidToMEX delegation.

UPDATE: September 23 …

Prime Minister Netanyahu to heads of Israel’s rescue mission in Mexico:
“You are bringing the light of Israel to the world.”

 

UPDATE: September 22 …

Mexicans Applaud The Israel Search and Rescue Team 

UPDATE: September 21 …

 

 

 

 

UPDATE: September 21 … “The delegation is now collecting information to best carry out the mission, to save lives, to aid Mexico” – Lt. Col. Sami Yehezkel

On the ground in Mexico City

Israel MFA team in Mexico.
Center – Israel’s ambassador Jonathan Peled.

UPDATE: September 21 … A short while ago, the IDF aid delegation landed safely in Mexico City and will soon begin their mission in coordination with local authorities.

Jerusalem, Israel — September 20, 2017 … Just hours before the celebration of the Jewish New Year (Rosh HaShana) Prime Minister Netanyahu directed the Israel Defense Forces to send a humanitarian team to Mexico.

Over 230 people, including at least 21 schoolchildren, are dead after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake slammed central Mexico on Tuesday afternoon.

Yesterday’s lethal earthquake was centered about 75 miles southeast of Mexico City and caused extensive damage, leveling at least 44 buildings, including homes, schools and office buildings, according to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

 


Israel Defense Forces – Saving Lives!
 

The IDF issued the following communication:

“In accordance with government directives, an IDF humanitarian aid team has been deployed and departed to the earthquake stricken region of Mexico.”

“The delegation consists of 70 soldiers and officers in mandatory and career service from the Homefront Command and the Israel Air Force (IAF). Among them are engineering experts who will evaluate damage and provide engineering assistance to the disaster zone. Additionally, search and rescue troops were sent on the mission to assist.”

“Engineering evaluation and assistance is one of the central necessities that Mexico’s disaster area needs. The engineering experts on the delegation will evaluate the infrastructure and terrain in the area in order to determine which buildings are safe to use.”

“The delegation departed a short while ago from the “Nevatim” Airbase, using IAF’s “Re’em” aircraft. The head of the delegation is the Commander of the National Search and Rescue Unit in the IDF Homefront Command, Col. (res.) Dudi Mizrahi.”

“The delegation will land in Mexico City within 14 hours.”

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a senior IDF spokesman said the delegation is expected to arrive in Mexico on Thursday morning. He says the delegation’s main effort will be to provide engineering assistance.

Seven years ago, the Israel Defense Forces deployed an emergency field hospital and search and rescue teams to Haiti following a devastating earthquake. The IDF hospital served as the only fully functioning hospital on the Caribbean island saving hundreds of lives.

Conricus said that the IDF and the State of Israel will continue to assist in the aftermath of any disaster worldwide that requires Israel’s experience and abilities.

Of Israel, Hurricane Irma And Broken Trees

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Key West, Florida — September 17, 2017 … It was Hillel who said: “If I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” It was with these words that Israel’s national search and rescue team United Hatzalah (or IsraelRescue.org) dispatched an emergency mission to the United States to provide search, rescue and medical services.

As Hurricane Irma’s winds started to break trees, homes and hearts in Florida, 12 Israelis arrived in Atlanta from Israel and were joined by Israeli Americans who work in the US.

Hurricane Irma was the most powerful hurricane ever recorded as it left a trail of destruction through the Caribbean and Florida. Irma’s maximum wind speeds reached 185 mph and left over 70 people dead.

I stood in the baggage claim area with a tall Israeli flag sticking out from my daypack eager and ready to greet these Israelis who just left the safety and comfort of their homes for what would be a disaster area.

Coming from one of the exit doors was a smiling Israeli who said to me: “Joel, what are you doing? We have our cars and are waiting for you!”

Without one minute’s delay, the group went to a local outdoor sports store and started to stock up on emergency provisions. From red waterproof jackets and waterproof boots to emergency ropes and granola bars – we stocked up for the worst.

Our first stop was Congregation Beth Jacob which was currently hosting over 1,000 evacuees from Florida and wanted to break bread with us before we headed south for Florida.

FOX News caught up to us there:


www.fox5atlanta.com/news/280011784-video

Before departing for points south, I called the Georgia and Florida Highway Police. Both agencies stated that it was too dangerous to travel. So dangerous that they were not even deploying their own troops. I relayed this information onto the mission leader, a very seasoned search and rescue professional. His response: “We are going.”

Our next stop was a Jewish Senior care center in Savannah. On the way we spoke with several Georgia state police, offering them food and water. We had their back and they had ours. We drove through several flooded roads and streets to reach these seniors.

Upon arrival we saw they had no electricity but their generator was running fine. Emergency lights, air conditioning, stoves, medical monitors and the charging of computers and phones were up and running. Our psychological trauma team went right to work counseling every senior they came in contact with. Many were confused and disoriented.

Our team put them at ease within minutes.

Now it was onto Miami. Evidence of Irma’s destructive winds were everywhere.

Power lines were down, Palm trees were snapped into two, many of Miami’s streets were turned into fast flowing creeks. We made it to Tower 41, a condo building which housed two synagogues and became a command center for staff and volunteers from Hatzalah Miami, Hatzalah New York and Hatzalah Israel.

We made immediate plans to travel out to the Chabad Center in Naples which was slammed by Irma’s 140 MPH winds. After a 2 hour drive we arrived at the Center.
They had no power yet were planning to make lunch for 1,000 people.

Chabad, one of the sweetest Jewish organizations on earth, always ready to help their communities was now grateful for us helping them.

The Rabbi’s wife, seeing us in our orange rescue shirts and blue and white Israeli flag hats, had tears in her eyes.

“It’s not what you are doing, it’s that you are here.”

She said this from a place of deep suffering. Everyone around us was suffering. Their pain could not be more visible.

They had lost everything.

We decided to turn back to Miami and prepare for the Florida Keys. From what we heard it was totally destroyed.

The police used the word: inhabitable.

We split into three teams. Each team had a walkie talkie to maintain constant communication.

For those still in the Keys, they had no telephone, no Internet, no Facebook or Twitter, no messaging. They had no communication except for their radios. And if they had a radio and had batteries for their radios they would hear emergency broadcasts as to where the US Navy would drop water and food.

The team I was with was preparing to go house to house. Knocking on every door to see if anyone needed help. This was not an easy task as looting was abundant and shootings were becoming common. We needed to get close to the house without setting foot on their property.

In many cases, the elderly could be hard of hearing, we were forced to knock loudly on front doors and windows. In one home we discovered a man in his eighties, without food and water who was wheelchair bound and had been sitting in his own feces for over 72 hours.

We were the only ones going house to house.

Between homes we spotted two giant Navy helicopters. We drove towards the point where they were landing. It was the parking lot of a Sears shopping center. We quickly discovered that we and volunteers from a Minnesota police department were the only ones on scene. We helped unload hundreds of cases of water and military ready to eat meals.

Thousands of Key West residents lined up in the 95 degree heat and high humidity to receive these precious water bottles and meat ravoli from the US military.

We stood there sweating buckets as we placed 4 plastic covered ready made meals in the hands of those hurricane victims standing before us. They would then walk behind us and pickup a case of water.

Each and every person tried so very hard to say thank you.

It was truly an effort in this hellish environment. We had to break this deeply depressing contact and with a huge, warm smile started to greet the weary with a loud “good morning Florida” welcome.

We had to distribute food and water but we also had to distribute hope and faith in the hours and weeks to come.

Just before arriving at one of the last homes we had on our list to check, we came upon some wild deer. They were seeking cover under the homes. It was a family of deer. They had survived the storm. They were now chewing on the grass, grazing, staying close to one another.

As I approached one of them she did not flee. Rather, very gently she walked over to me. I looked at her with tears in my eyes and said softly: “The storm is over. The sun is out. There is no more wind. You are going to be fine.”

 

Copyright © 2017 Israel News Agency All rights reserved

 

 

United Hatzalah Represents The Best Of Israel in Texas

By Israel News Agency Staff

Jerusalem, Israel — September 4, 2017 – One of Israel’s most respected domestic and international humanitarian aid organizations is now hard at work in hurricane ravaged Texas.

Hurricane Harvey dumped some 50 inches (125 cm) of rain on the low-lying Gulf coastal region after slamming Texas on Aug. 25, killing over 50 people and causing what the Texas governor said could be up to $180 billon in damage.

There was no time to rest on Shabbat as United Hatzalah and Israel Rescue Coalition’s (IRC) Houston relief team headed to Beaumont at the request of the Mayor of Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner.

After distributing aid to evacuated residents of the area, the United Hatzalah team set up a field unit at the Jack Brooks Regional Airport which is located between Beaumont and Port Arthur, two of the hardest hit areas by Hurricane Harvey. Evacuees were being brought on buses to the airport for care and to receive supplies before they were sent by plane to a mega center for local evacuees. As one local reporter from Channel 12 News Now put it, the Israeli volunteers were on hand to make sure that “evacuees received food, shelter and friendship” before being sent to the long term evacuation center in Dallas.

United Hatzalah and the IRC team consists of Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit members who focus on providing psychological and emotional stabilization and care following traumatic incidents.

Team member Avi Tennenbaum, who is a Psychotherapist and addictions expert, spoke about the team’s experience over the weekend providing that type of care as well as aid to Harvey evacuees. “We had an unforgettable day here in the airport. We treated many people who had just been evacuated and were en route to their next long term location as well as many first responders, members of the national guard and EMS crews.”

Tennenbaum has a BA in Psychotherapy and is a registered EMT with United Hatzalah as well as being one of the more senior volunteers with the organization’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response unit. He is a board-certified addiction professional and directs JNARS, a nonprofit organization for advancing the professional treatment of addiction disorders.

“For us as volunteers, this was an unforgettable weekend. We arrived in Port Arthur and met dozens of broken-hearted people who were evacuated with nothing but the shirts on their backs. We were able to bring some light into their dark experience and help them move forward to the next leg of their journey. We also offered critical emotional support to exhausted EMS personnel who were working around the clock to rescue those surrounded by floodwaters. The military, national guard, EMS crews, and good samaritans who were volunteering to help their fellow Texans were extremely grateful for our presence. We kept receiving hugs, blessings, and photo requests. But the most incredible thing for us was the stories that people shared with us,” Tennenbaum said.

“Part of the job here is to listen. We heard some incredible stories from people and we allowed them to cry and share their stories of how they evacuated babies on floating air mattresses and saw human organs floating in the floodwaters. Other stories included people being starved for three days with no water or food, or facing dangerous snakes that entered homes via the flood waters. People kept telling us how they simply woke up to water surrounding their bed in the morning. The stories were simply endless and our job is to listen and provide psycholgocial and emotional support and that is what we did,” Tennenbaum explained.

Among the Jewish volunteers who were assisting in the evacuations, were pilots and EMS teams, many of whom had been working for days without end.

“We need to listen to their stories and the stories of other volunteers and first response personnel just as much. They also need to talk and offload the stress of their experiences. Over the course of the weekend we were able to treat several pilots and EMS crews all of whom thanked us tremendously,” Tennenbaum said.

“One flight paramedic was so enamored by us that he clung tightly to Dr. Sharon Slater and our team leader Miriam Ballin.”

“Shabbat was a bit of challenge for us as we were not able to leave the area to get back to Houston due to the still high waters on the roads. So we stayed in the airport and continued helping people,” said Ballin. “One flight paramedic eagerly invited herself to our Shabbat meal and shared with us some incredible stories as she too was spending the day at the airport.”

“It was an unbelievable few days and we merited to do great things here. We hope to continue our efforts for a long time yet, ” Tennenbaum concluded.