When disaster strikes, getting help from experts is a good idea—even for a superpower like the United States. So as the rescue and support teams deal with the aftermath of last week’s tragic building collapse in the town of Surfside, Florida, an aid delegation from Israel’s IDF and Ministry of Foreign Affairs was dispatched to assist in the efforts. The team includes Commander of the National Rescue Unit in the Home Front Command Col. (res.) Golan Vach, as well as 10 reserve officers from the Home Front Command that the IDF website called “top experts in engineering and social care efforts.”
The mission’s name highlights Israel’s view of the relationship with the US: “Yad Achim” in Hebrew, which Israel’s Consul General in Miami Maor Elbaz-Starinsky translated on Twitter as “Lending a hand to brothers”.
The Israeli team arrived early Sunday morning and the Florida Division of Emergency Management was quick to express their thanks, including posting it publicly on Twitter that same day: “Early this morning, FDEM Director @KevinGuthrieFL was proud to welcome the Israeli Homefront Command Team. The team is being deployed to support #SurfsideBuildingCollapse response & recovery efforts. Thank you, @IDF!”
The Israeli team’s assistance follows the collapse of the Champlain Towers South Condo in Surfside. NBC News reported on Saturday that five bodies had been recovered so far, with more than 150 still missing. The 12-story, 136-residence condominium, which according to Miami Condo Investments was built 40 years ago, collapsed on Thursday.
According to the press release on the IDF website, the Yad Achim aid mission is to “assist in the life-saving efforts by mapping out the destruction site, assisting the Jewish community in identifying victims and survivors, and supporting the local rescue forces generally.” The IDF Twitter page, commenting on the aid delegation, made their aim clear: “The IDF is ready to respond, act and assist in the effort to save lives and support our allies.”
Israel regularly dispatches rescue teams to disaster sites around the world, having dealt with their own share of tragedies caused by war, terror attacks and natural disasters.
As part of Israel’s response to the Florida disaster, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke by phone with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Saturday to convey his condolences. Per a recap of the call published by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser, Bennett told DeSantis “that the US is Israel’s greatest friend and that Israel stands by the US at this difficult time. He added that everyone is praying for the wellbeing of the wounded and noted he has instructed all Israeli government agencies to render whatever assistance that may be requested.”
In addition to the IDF aid effort, the Israeli consulate in Miami has already been hard at work to help. The IDF press release said the staff headed by Consul General Maor Elbaz-Starinsky “have maintained a regular presence at the site since the tragic collapse and have provided assistance with clothing, medicine, food, emergency lighting and more.”
The Miami consulate’s Twitter page noted on the same day as the tragedy that Elbaz-Starinsky was in touch with US Senator from Florida Marco Rubio to offer support. As the post said: “Israel is here to help in any way possible. That’s what friends are for.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, June 27, 2021)