Relief Efforts Around the World
Earthquake Relief in Mexico
On September 19th and 20th, 1985, two fierce earthquakes shook Mexico's capital, Mexico City. The earthquakes left in their wake thousands of homes demolished, in which thousands of people lay trapped. In the wake of this disaster, it was decided that an IDF relief mission would be sent to Mexico City, along with tons of humanitarian equipment medicines and tents, rescue equipment, professional rescue teams from the IDF's Rescue Unit and medical teams.
Earthquake Relief in Armenia
On December 7, 1988, a powerful earthquake hit Armenia and destroyed many towns across the entire country, leaving tens of thousands dead and injured, and many homeless. Around the world humanitarian aid missions were assembled, and they assisted the government of the USSR not only in rescuing and evacuating the injured, but also in distributing basic supplies.
Israel too sent an aid mission, which included a rescue unit comprised of rescuers, doctors and much needed supplies for the refugees.
Terror Relief in Argentina
On March 17, 1992, a powerful bomb blast rocked the Israeli embassy building in Buenos Aires. The blast caused the collapse of the four-story building. Twenty-nine people were killed in the explosion and 250 were injured, many of them buried alive. Israel dispatched a Homefront Command rescue team and doctors, who were assisted by tracking dogs. The mission helped to extricate and thereby save the lives of many people buried under the collapsed building.
Civil War Relief in Rwanda
Bloody civil war broke out in Rwanda in 1994 between the Hutu and the Tutsi tribes. The fighting cost one million people their lives. As a result of the war, millions of refugees were concentrated in refugee camps in neighboring countries. On June 23 the IDF flew a medical team comprised of doctors, medical staff, medical supplies, food and clothing to assist the refugees concentrated in proximity to the city of Goma in Zaire. To ensure the security of the medical team, a unit of Givati Brigade soldiers was also sent. Some 270 IDF soldiers and officers spent 40 days in the field hospital at the refugee camp, and provided medical and humanitarian aid.
Fire Relief in Turkey
On July 4, 1997, a huge fire broke out in a number of Turkish arms factories. The Turkish government turned to the The Israeli Air Force and asked for assistance in putting it out. The IAF sent assistance in the form of fire-fighting helicopters and sophisticated equipment. With the Israeli aid, Turkish efforts to put out the fire, which was threatening to engulf the adjacent city, were successful. The IAF received much praise for the successful aid.
Eye From Zion
The Eye From Zion organization is a group of Israeli doctors who volunteer their time free of charge to provide emergency medical treatments to underpriveleged peoples around the globe. The doctors perform surgeries along with local medical teams, and provide hope for underserved and impoverished individuals. The Eye From Zion has run many relief missions to since 2007, and has served people from China, Vietnam, Myanmar, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and the Maldives.
In August 2015 the Eye From Zion organization travelled to Kyrgyzstan and performed restorative optical procedures on 90 individuals. The doctors performed cataract surgeries, tumor removals, cornea surgeries, and various plastic surgeries on the grateful patients.
Flood Relief in the U.K.
Four members of the IsraAID humanitarian relief organization arrived in the United Kingdom on January 5, 2016, to offer help for victims of floods. Citizens expressed gratitude as the IsraAID team repaired structural damage on homes, and distributed blankets and food to individuals who were forced to flee their houses.
Middle East Migrant Crisis
IsraAID worked closely with Greece, Italy, and other countries directly affected by the 2015 Middle East migrant crisis, to bring food, supplies, and medical attention to the refugees as they arrived. IsraAID has been actively responding to the ongoing migrant crisis with training, support, supplies, and distribution capabilities, since 2012.
Japan, Ecuador Earthquakes
In April 2016 multiple deadly earthquakes rocked Japan and Ecuador, and IsraAID was there to assist with humanitarian aid and various supplies. Israeli relief workers opened child care centers and mobile health clinics in Japan for those affected by the disaster, and offered medical treatment, shelter, psychological assistance, and other resources to the Ecuadoran victims. IsraAID set up a field hospital to assist victims of the earthquake in Ecuador on April 23, 2016.
Flood Relief in Louisiana
An 8-person IsraAID team was dispatched to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in late August 2016, following flooding that claimed 13 lives and affected over 60,000 homes. The city was subjected to rainfall of up to 2-3 inches per hour for 3 days straight, totalling three times more water than was dumped on New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Earthquake Relief in Italy
A 6.2 magnitude earthquake shattered the central Italian town of Amatrice on August 24, 2016, leaving 290 people dead and hundreds of buildings destroyed or in danger of collapse. A 20-person team from IsraAID arrived in Amatrice within 24 hours of the quake, offering temporary housing, food and water aid, as well as grief counseling for families of victims.
Hurricane Relief in Haiti
Hurricane Matthew tore through Haiti during the first week of October 2016, killing over 1,000 residents and destroying over 90% of the island's southern portion. The hurricane's 145-mph winds and torrential rains dealt significant damage to the island's infrastructure and left 350,000 Haitians in need of assistance. IsraAID has had a team of full-time workers in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake that caused $13.2 billion in damage and devastated the island, and these individuals sprang into action distributing food and water following hurricane Matthew. The IsraAID team set up an aid clinic in Haiti's capital Port-Au-Prince, which was fully stocked with equipment and supplies thanks to a recent shipment from the MASHAV international development agency. Although Israel does not have an embassy in Haiti, IsraAID's leaders coordinated with the Haitian government to deliver much needed aid to the people.
Sources: Israeli Defense Forces
“Israeli Doctors Restore Sight to 90 Kyrgyzstanis in 'Eye From Zion' Initiative,” Algemeiner (August 26, 2015);
Fisher, John/Doherty, Rosa. “Israeli disaster relief team supporting UK flood victims have 'become heroes,'” Jewish Chronicle (January 6, 2016);
Rabinowitz, Gavin. “Israeli volunteers are aiding Syrian refugees in Europe,” JTA (September 22, 2015);
“IsraAID extends assistance to refugees,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (September 20, 2015);
Goldstein, Eitan. “Israeli aid group going to Louisiana to assist flood victims,” YNet News, (August 24, 2016);
“Israeli aid group building shelters for Italy quake victims,” Times of Israel (August 29, 2016);
Leichman, Abigail. “Israelis help Haitians cope after devastating hurricane,” Israel21C, (October 9, 2016)