Israel provides humanitarian aid around the world
Posted August 20, 2012
Israel on the frontline of international aid
In 1958, Israel adopted an official humanitarian aid agenda as a principal
element of the country’s international cooperation efforts.
Within a decade of Israel’s founding, the government and its people
demonstrated a deep commitment to engage in humanitarian relief efforts and
international development programs. In 1958, Israel adopted an official
humanitarian aid agenda as a principal element of the country’s
international cooperation efforts. Over the years, the country has extended
international humanitarian aid assistance to more than 140 countries, even
to those who do not maintain diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.
Israel’s humanitarian efforts formally began in 1958, with the establishment
of MASHAV, as the Foreign Ministry’s Center for International Cooperation,
following the first visit of Foreign Minister Golda Meir to Africa. MASHAV
assists countries striving to alleviate global problems of hunger, disease
and poverty by providing technical training and sharing technology to
improve quality of life. In the 1970s, Israel broadened its humanitarian aid
agenda by granting safe haven to refugees and foreign nationals in
distress – from Vietnam, Bosnia and Kosovo – and more recently from Darfur.
Also, since 1959, MASHAV has been sending Israeli eye-doctors to countries
throughout the developing world to treat preventable blindness and ocular
disease. The Israeli teams set up “eye camps”, bringing with them extensive
treatment equipment often unavailable in the country, and perform operations
to restore sight, train local staff and often donate medical equipment at
the end of their stay.
MASHAV, now Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, is
the body responsible for Israel’s official humanitarian assistance program.
Since the 1980s, Israel has also provided humanitarian aid in the wake of
natural disasters and terrorist attacks beyond its borders.
Tsunami – January 2005:
Sri Lankan child receives medical treatment
Israel, by tragic circumstance, is possibly the world’s leading expert in
dealing with mass casualty situations. Israel has gained vast experience in
responding to such situations resulting from war or terror, leading to the
development of extremely effective procedures for rapid and effective
response in case of emergency. This experience enables Israel to quickly
dispatch field hospitals and medical and search and rescue teams to
countries in the immediate aftermath of both natural and man-made disasters.
In addition, Israel often donates needed food, medicine and supplies in
emergency situations, constructs temporary housing and rehabilitates damaged
medical facilities where needed.
Among Israel’s emergency relief missions:
The most recent major disaster relief mission was dispatched to Haiti, after
the desvastating earthquake in January 2010. An IDF search and rescue team
and field hospital were supplemented by relief teams from Israeli NGOs,
including ZAKA, IsraAid, F.I.R.S.T and Latet.
The Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004 was one of the worst natural
disasters in history. Israel sent 60 tons of aid to Indonesia, which was
well-received by a country with the largest Muslim population in the world,
and no ties with Israel. The Israeli government also sent 82 tons of relief
supplies, including medicine, water, food, blankets, tents, nylon sheeting
and electric generators to Sri Lanka. Magen David Adom, Israel’s division of
the International Red Cross, dispatched additional urgent medical supplies
to hospitals in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo.
Israeli organizations were also involved in providing aid to Pakistan after
the November 2005 earthquake in Kashmir. An Israeli NGO, Israeli Flying Aid
(IFA) sent a mission to the region and provided thousands of families basic
dry food products, blankets, coats, socks, personal clay heating kits and
iron sheets to shield temporary shelters from heavy snow.
Major relief efforts in the past include:
Israeli aid to earthquake victims in India – January 2001
Israeli aid to earthquake victims in El Salvador – January 2001
Israeli aid for Turkish earthquake victims – August 1999
Operation ‘Interns for Hope': Israeli medical aid for Rwandan refugees in
Zaire – July 1994
Israeli humanitarian aid organizations
IsraAID (The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid), founded in
Israel in 2001, is an umbrella organization of more than 35 Israeli and
Jewish non-governmental organizations and other individuals active in
development and relief work around the world and concerned about global
issues. IsraAID and its members have provided relief assistance to more than
20 countries including Rwanda, India, Mexico, Congo, Chad, Sudan (Darfur)
The Fast Israeli Rescue and Search Team (FIRST) is an Israeli NGO that sends
search and rescue teams to disaster zones around the world. FIRST has also
provided relief assistance in Peru, Turkey, India, Mexico, El Salvador,
Greece, Armenia and New Guinea, among others
Israeli Flying Aid (IFA), an Israeli NGO, provides life saving aid to people
affected by natural and man made disasters worldwide.
Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) is an organization that provides urgent
pediatric heart surgery and follow-up care for children from developing
countries. SACH was founded in 1995 and has since repaired the hearts of
more than 2,100 children from a wide variety of countries including China,
Congo, Ecuador, Angola, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, Iraq, Jordan, Russia, Sri
Lanka and Ukraine as well as to children in areas controlled by the
LATET (Hebrew for “to give”) – Israeli Humanitarian Aid is an NGO
established in 1996 and devoted to assisting populations in need in Israel
and around the world on a universal and equal basis.
IMRA – Independent Media Review and Analysis