May 19, 2008 – Israel has always been one of the first countries to offer humanitarian assistance in respect to a major disaster or conflict. Be it in Rwanda, Indonesia, Chad-Sudan and now Burma (Myanmar), Israel’s elite specialists are renown throughout the world for their expertise in saving lives. Religion nor politics play a part in their mission, a point dismissed as irrelevant by the religious and political fanatics of this world. Irrespective of one’s race, religion or nationality, there is a biblical obligation to save lives. It’s a pity that Israel’s neighbours refuse to recognise the value of just one life.
“We saw on the TV what was happening in Burma and decided that we would have to try and find a way to provide assistance,” Shachar Zahavi, the director of IsraAID, told ISRAEL21c.
By Karin Kloosterman (Israel21c)
As the death toll in Myanmar (formerly Burma) rises… Israeli relief workers have flown out to the disaster torn region.
After the news broke, members of Israel’s volunteer umbrella organization IsraAID (The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid), started brainstorming about what they could do. They decided to send a small expert team of doctors, nurses and water specialists to Myanmar to provide immediate relief.
The team would also be charged with reporting back to Israel about the next stages of relief.
The executive members of IsraAID who represent 15 non-governmental organizations in Israel, selected a team of volunteers from two Israeli NGOs: Fast Israeli Rescue & Search Team (F.I.R.S.T) and Israeli Flying Aid.
Dr. Ephraim Laor, Israel’s top specialist in disaster relief, who is in direct contact with the United Nations, heads the relief team.
Despite the media reports that Myanmar’s military rulers are barring certain foreign aid relief workers from entering the country, Zahavi says that the Israeli team has noticed no problems when working with the Myanmar Embassy in Tel Aviv, and foresees no problems in the future.
IsraAID and Israeli relief workers have a long history of helping people around the world in dire need.
They sent relief after Hurricane Katrina, they were on the scene giving relief after the 2004 tsunami, and are continually providing support on the Chad-Sudan border, as part of a larger scale program of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS).
Due to their dedication, passion and expertise, Israeli relief workers have played a major role in saving thousands of lives. Donations to help fund Israeli relief are provided by organizations and individuals around the world including Mark Solomon from CMS Companies in the US, The Jewish Federation of Toronto, and B’nai B’rith International.
“These are a few our constant supporters,” adds Zahavi. “They believe in Israel’s need to respond to disasters.”