(JNS.org) As an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale continues to claim victims in Nepal—3,600 deaths as of Monday—a 260-member Israeli rescue team headed for Nepal to assist local authorities. The Israeli mission was delayed by 12 hours due to earthquake damage at the airport in Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu.
The Israeli mission includes an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) field hospital, a trained rescue team, and a security team.
“You are being sent on an important mission,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, addressing the Israeli team members. “This is the true face of Israel—a country that offers aid over any distance at such moments.”
Besides the general Nepalese population affected by the earthquake, Israel is concerned about its own citizens in Nepal. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said that 600 Israelis were in Nepal when the earthquake struck, and that contact has been established with about 400 of them. No contact has been established yet with 120 Israeli backpackers.
Also sending rescue teams from Israel to Nepal were the humanitarian and emergency response organizations Magen David Adom, United Hatzalah, Zaka, F.I.R.S.T., IsraeLife, IsraAID, and others, as well as the private insurance companies Harel and Phoenix.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), meanwhile, said it is partnering with the IDF field hospital in Kathmandu through providing equipment such as neonatal incubators.
“As we ensure that aid crucial to the survival and wellbeing of victims in the first days following a disaster are secured and distributed, our team will begin to lay the foundation for our longer-term efforts to help the Nepalese people recover from this unprecedented crisis,” said Mandie Winston, director of JDC’s International Development Program. “Given the dire conditions on the ground, and challenges that existed before the earthquake, we are focused on ensuring that the most vulnerable—women, children, the elderly, and people with special needs—are protected and cared for now and in the future.”
Eli Pollak, CEO of IsraeLife, said, “We decided to enlist the cooperation of the prominent Israeli emergency agencies in order to maximize the capabilities of the delegation, which is made up of experts in serving the needs of the disaster area. We are preparing for a long stay that will provide solutions to the Israelis living in Nepal and local residents.”