Saving Lives in Haiti

Avi with baby 237x300 Saving Lives in Haiti

Senior Gynecologist Lt. Col. Avi Abarjel

Pop Quiz:

Which country has established a field hospital in Haiti, staffed with approximately 250 personnel, and with the capacity to treat up to 500 patients per day, referred to by CBS News as “the Rolls Royce of emergency medical care”?

  1. The United States
  2. Great Britain
  3. France
  4. Canada

Have you guessed yet?

The answer is, in fact, none of the above great powers.

The country that brought that hospital and its emergency services to Haiti, so far treating over 2,000 people, is a country of barely 7 million people, with an area the size of New Jersey – Israel.

Israel has sent in one of the foremost crisis rescue and medical missions in Haiti so far, sending both the Israel Defense Forces’ emergency aid team, consisting of a medical mission and search and rescue teams, which arrived on January 15th, and the ZAKA Israeli emergency response service, which is staffed exclusively by volunteers, most of them religiously observant  Jews, as well as a 15-member civilian response team from the Israel Forum for International Aid (IsraAid) – a coordinating body of Israeli and Jewish NGOs.

Israel baby photo Saving Lives in Haiti

Baby Israel is born in Haiti

The IDF aid team has now established the aforementioned emergency field hospital, reported to be one of the largest medical facilities currently operating in Haiti, adjacent to Port-au-Prince’s soccer stadium, and has so far administered first aid to over 2,000 patients, performed about 100 life-saving surgeries, and delivered 5 babies. One baby boy’s mother has named her son “Israel” in honor of the country that helped her. The Israeli hospital has quickly developed a reputation among medical professionals on the ground as aid and supplies from other nations have been slow to arrive. The hospital recently treated 2 children rescued by a team from the New York City fire and police departments. ”No one except the Israeli hospital has taken any of our patients,” a Harvard doctor told CNN.

In the meantime, the Israeli rescue teams are working around the clock to rescue survivors from the rubble. While the rescue team is staffed by many observant Jews, the entire team had decided to break the religious rule against working on the Sabbath last Saturday, and continued their rescue efforts, following a Jewish law which instructs that the Sabbath must be broken when a life is in danger. “With all the hell going on outside, even when things get bad, Judaism says we must take a deep breath and go on to save more people” said Commander of the ZAKA mission to Haiti Mati Goldstein in an interview with Israeli news outlet YnetNews. “ZAKA is … proudly desecrating Shabbat.” So far, the Israelis have rescued a 52 year old man, a 6 year old girl, and 8 students, whom it took 38 hours to free from a flattened university building. Israel is also working on a plan to adopt 50 Haitian orphans.

The Israeli rescue team will remain on the earthquake-stricken island for at least another month to oversee the field hospital and provide emergency medical care to victims. I think we can all feel incredibly inspired by the tremendous work tiny Israel is doing to save the victims of this dreadful disaster. Those of us who invest in Israel Bonds can be proud that a piece of our investments went to finance that hospital, and the military doctors working in it to save lives.

See below for CBS News and CNN coverage discussing the Israeli hospital in Haiti:

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(Photos: The Israel Project)

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About Jenna Mitelman

Jenna is a transplant to Minnesota from sunny California, where she graduated from UC Berkeley. She lives and works in Minneapolis, but secretly loves St. Paul. She is a former Human Rights Commissioner for the City of Plymouth and a regular speaker on the Arab-Israeli conflict with the JCRC Speakers' Bureau. She is also a big fan of Minnesota lakes and forests, and can regularly be found kayaking and snowshoeing up north, when she isn't rock climbing out west.

Comments. Add Yours!

2 comments

  1. I had no idea, but I’m not the least bit surprised at this. Picuach nefesh, of course Israel is there doing Tikkun Olam.