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Israel Sends Rescue Teams to Mexico after Quake

September 24, 2017 Human Interest, Special Feature

When disaster strikes anywhere, call Israel. Image of IDF Aid Delegation Search and Rescue Missions in Mexico City. Photo courtesy of IDF.

Groups of Israelis decided to spend their New Year’s holiday traveling to Mexico—but it wasn’t for a vacation. Search and rescue teams from the Israeli military and the iAID organization went to assist Mexico in recovering from last week’s devastating earthquake—and chose to help out during last week’s Rosh HaShannah holiday, also known as the Jewish New Year.

Israel received a request from Mexico to assist and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commissioned such help to leave for Mexico “as soon as possible,” according to a press release from his office last Wednesday. Later that same day, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) team—consisting of dozens of soldiers—departed, arriving on Rosh HaShannah on Thursday last week, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Twitter feedThe Spokesperson’s Twitter feed posted that the IDF team then spent the next several days “helping survey buildings & rescue trapped civilians from the rubble”.

On Saturday, Netanyahu spoke by phone with the leader of the IDF delegation, Col. Dudi Mizrachi, and Israeli Ambassador to Mexico Yoni Peled. “You are shining Israel’s light in the world, a big light,” Netanyahu told them, according to a press release from his office. “It is important from a humanitarian standpoint and also to show the world the true Israel.”

Meanwhile, iAID, an international Israeli aid organization, sent a 15-person search and rescue team during the holiday as well and quickly received special access from the Mexican authorities to a sensitive site.

The Escuela Enrique Repsamen school, in which dozens of bodies have been found so far, has been closed off by the Mexican military. Despite that, iAID was “invited to take part in the highly sensitive and complex search and rescue efforts,” said a press release from the group.

Another iAID team has been working at a collapsed multi-story residential building searching for survivors. The press release said that together with the Mexican army and other groups, the iAID team is “leading the efforts to try and locate survivors at the site by implementing an innovative and effective coordination and communication model.”

The press release told one story in which an iAID team found a family searching through rubble by themselves trying to find the family’s father inside. The iAID team helped the family recover his body. Despite the tragedy, the iAID press release said that the family was “extremely thankful” to be able to properly bury the family’s father.

That’s not the only thanks received by Israel so far. A Twitter post from the IDF Spokesperson showed notes from Mexican children thanking the IDF team.

Among the comments, the Twitter post quoted the children as expressing their thanks and using the traditional “Shana tova” Jewish New Year blessing—which prays for a good year: “Thanks for coming to help! Shana tova! Here in Mexico, everyone thanks you.”

The IDF Blog reported that the delegation includes both search and rescue and engineering teams, who can assist in determining if buildings are safe or not. That expertise is why the Israelis are so regularly called to assist in such tragedies, even during their holidays. It’s something they are certainly willing to do.

The Blog quoted IDF Spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus as saying, “The IDF and the State of Israel will continue to assist in the aftermath of any disaster around the world that requires our experience and abilities.”

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, September 24, 2017)

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