Doctors, engineers and rescue teams participating in Israel's aid mission to earthquake-stricken Haiti began to pack up for the trip home on Sunday, 10 days after taking a leading role in international efforts to assist the devastated Caribbean nation.
The Israeli mission was the only one to bring along a mobile medical facility equipped to perform the complex surgical procedures so many of the survivors needed. By the end of the weekend, 223 Haitians had received life-saving surgery at the Israeli facility and 10 babies had been delivered. Hundreds more received treatment from Israeli Home Front Command personnel.
Additionally, Israeli army canine units played a major role in searching for survivors trapped in the rubble of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. On Friday, one of the Israeli units found and extracted a 22-year-old Haitian man who had been trapped under a collapsed three-story building for 10 days. Haitian and other international officials had already called off the search for survivors, but the Israeli teams continued anyway.
The cost of the Israeli mission was heavy for the Jewish state, but the team was determined to remain in Haiti until other nations began to pick up the slack. At the weekend, a large US Navy hospital ship arrived, taking much of the burden off the Israeli field hospital, and freeing the Israeli team to return home.
Israel's efforts in Haiti were hugely disproportionate compared to the aid provided by other nations and even the UN. Those efforts and an outpouring of thanks from local Haitians won Israel some much-needed positive media coverage in the US and elsewhere.
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