Philippine envoy thanks Israeli government, NGOs as aid and assistance continues
By BENJI ROSEN
IDF, Foreign Ministry and Israeli, Jewish humanitarian organizations are all sending aid workers to the Philippines.
Philippine Ambassador to Israel Generoso D.G. Calonge expressed appreciation on
Tuesday for the assistance Israel has offered to his storm-ravaged country,
saying it made him “so happy.”
“I can’t describe the feeling right now...
that my host country cares about our stricken people,” he told The Jerusalem
Post. “I hope the people of Israel will maintain their attitude of people who
are stricken with this crisis and who are on the losing end of natural
The IDF, Foreign Ministry and Israeli and Jewish humanitarian
organizations are sending aid workers to the Philippines to provide rescue and
relief efforts in the wake of super-typhoon Haiyan. The confirmed death toll
from the storm was at least 1,774 as of Tuesday, with estimates reaching
In addition, according to the UN, approximately 800,000 people
have been displaced by one of the strongest storms to ever make
In a letter to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on
Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu extended his “heartfelt condolences”
to the victims of the “horrific typhoon” and guaranteed Israel’s “assistance to
alleviate the suffering.”
On Tuesday, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron
Prosor said Israel was supporting the Philippines “not only in words but also in
In a statement, Prosor said the IDF was sending two Boeing
747’s with 234 Israeli doctors, nurses and paramedics, as well as equipment to
set up a state-of-the-art mobile hospital, to the Philippines on Wednesday.
Heading the mission will be Col. Ramtin Sabati, who commands the National Rescue
Unit, and will also include deputy Medical Corps chief Col. Dudu Dagan, who will
act as commander of the field hospital.
Israel assembled a similar
hospital in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake there, equipped with an
intensive care unit and a maternity ward.
Members of the IDF’s Home Front
Command and of the Foreign Ministry are already in the Philippines evaluating
how Israel can most effectively provide aid, by assessing the situation and the
The Home Front Command’s Search and Rescue
Unit, whose past operations include disaster relief in Haiti and Kenya, is also
assisting Philippine authorities in their rescue and recovery
Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines Menashe Bar-On stated that
“the Philippines and the Filipino People are close friends with Israel and the
Jewish people,” adding that “at this moment, our urgent task is to extend help
to the Philippine government.”
Transportation Minister Israel Katz
announced Tuesday that Israel and the Philippines had agreed to allow 21 direct
flights a week to operate between the two countries. A spokeswoman for the
Transportation Ministry said that while the contract had been finalized three
days before the typhoon struck, this agreement would likely bolster Israel’s
support of the Philippines in the future as the latter country rebuilds
Meanwhile, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)
has begun collecting donations online and over the phone for disaster relief,
with support from the Jewish Federations of North America.
“As part of
our ongoing response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, JDC will ship a
container of critically important food, shelter, hygiene and medical supplies
and will ensure the provision of water and sanitation items and shelter support
through its partners the Afya Foundation and Catholic Relief Services,” the
group said Tuesday.
It added that would be sending an advance team of
disaster relief and development experts to the Philippines later this week “to
assess damage and needs as well as consult with our local/international partners
and the Filipino Jewish community to ensure maximum impact for storm
The organization has a history with the East Asian country:
As recently as 2009, the JDC and an Israeli partner fought a cholera outbreak
there following another typhoon.
Israeli humanitarian organization
IsraAID has already dispatched seven medical professionals to Tacloban City, one
of the Philippine regions that suffered the most damage.
Shachar Zahavi told the Post on Sunday that the group’s immediate goal was
Zahavi said that once the organization better
understood the scope of the disaster, it would also deploy trauma professionals
and child protection specialists.
Besides the Israeli and Jewish
humanitarian aid, the UN has allocated $25 million for immediate relief efforts
in the Philippines and is appealing for an additional $301m. The United States
has committed $20m., and the International Red Cross is aiming to raise $94.6m.,
which it says would provide 100,000 families with food, clean water, shelter and
other relief for the next 18 months.
Yaakov Lappin contributed to this