The State of Israel and the IDF have dispatched a team of specialists to help the rescue teams operating at the site of the collapse of the Champlain Towers at Surfside, just outside Miami.
At least five people are confirmed dead and 156 are still missing, many of them Jews, including some Israeli citizens.
The joint IDF and Ministry of Foreign Affairs aid delegation that departed on Saturday night as part of “Operation Lending a Hand to Brothers” is headed by the Commander of the IDF’s National Rescue Unit in the Home Front Command, Col. (res.) Golan Vach, and includes a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Guy Giladi, the former Deputy Consul General in Miami.
The delegation consists of 10 reserve officers from the Home Front Command, all top experts in engineering and social care efforts.
The delegation’s 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 in general.
A friend in need
Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid stated that Israel “has no greater friend than the United States of America, and America has no greater friend than Israel. At difficult times such as these, we stand with our American friends and with the Jewish community in Florida.”
“The rapid and effective mobilization of the Defense Establishment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is an important statement about Israel’s relations and friendship with the United States,” he added.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke on Saturday with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and conveyed condolences over the disaster on behalf of the Israeli public and said that Israel will assist the American authorities in any way possible.
Minister of Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai left for Miami in a show of solidarity with the victims.
Israeli rescue organization United Hatzalah also sent a team from its Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit to provide psychological support and stabilization to the families and neighbors of those injured, killed or affected by the tragedy that occurred in Surfside, Florida.
The team will be utilizing techniques and tools developed in Israel which have proven to be highly successful in assisting those who have suffered from similar disasters.
The United Hatzalah delegation is being flown to Miami by El Al Airlines, which has graciously sponsored the flights despite suffering massive loses over the past year due to the Corona crisis.
Light to the nations
Israel has a long history of being the first on the ground to provide assistance when disaster strikes, no matter where it is in the world.
Israel’s search and rescue and medical trauma teams are among the best in the world. And despite the Jewish state’s limited resources, they are always ready to help at a moment’s notice.
Over the past several decades, Israeli rescue and medical delegations have assisted following disasters in Japan, the Philippines, Kenya, Turkey, California and elsewhere. Following the devastating 2010 earthquake that hit Haiti, Israel was praised the world over for operating the largest and most effective field hospital on the ground in the small Caribbean nation.
Israel doesn’t have to go out of its way like this to help others in need, especially those so far from its borders. Israel does so because Judaism calls for active engagement in Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, and being a light to the nations.
For more on this, see:
- When catastrophe strikes the IDF is there to help
- Netanyahu: Israel Helps Because We are a Light Unto the Nations
- From Israel With Love
With reporting by TPS.