President Shimon Peres on Monday expressed his own and the nation’s appreciation
to Russian Deputy Civil Defense, Emergency and Disaster Relief Minister Pavel
Plat and his large delegation that came to battle the Mount Carmel
The group was given a red carpet welcome.
were mounted in the courtyard and reception areas of Beit Hanassi and sprigs of
rosebuds in Russia’s national colors that had been laid out on trays were pinned
to the uniforms of each member of the Russian team.
Peres walked around
the room and shook the hand of each and then welcomed them in Russian before
switching to Hebrew.
“We thank you from the depths of our hearts,” he
said, commending the bravery of the firefighters and rescue operators. “This is
an act of courage and friendship that we will never forget.”
team had demonstrated to the whole world, that notwithstanding differences in
attitude and outlook, disaster brings out the best in people and prompts nations
to cooperate with each other, Peres said.
Russian courage is well known
in Israel, he said, because so many Israelis are of Russian background, and
still carry Russia in their hearts.
He recalled having been in Russia
last spring for the 65th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis by the Red Army,
and watching aged veterans marching courageously and with pride.
lamented the fact that it takes a catastrophe to bring nations together, but
added that such tragedies may sometimes lead to peace.
In this context he
stated how touched Israel had been to receive an offer of help from the
The offer could be interpreted as a step towards
peace, he said.
Peres asked Plat to convey Israel’s thanks to President
Dmitry Medvedev and to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Medvedev, who is
due to visit Israel early in 2011, sent a message of condolence to Peres over
Peres said that the swift Russian response to Israel’s needs
would definitely enhance relations between the two countries.
of his ministry, said Plat, is Prevention, Rescue and Help.
we try to do in circumstances of the kind that brought us to Israel. We came to
do whatever possible to put out the fires.”
Plat was full of praise for
the cooperation that his team had received from the IDF, from Israeli
firefighters and rescue operators and from municipal services that maintained
constant contact and ensured that all the Russian needs were met.
happy that in this joint effort, we were able to overwhelm this disaster,” he
said. “We put a great deal of effort into what we did, but we would not have
been nearly as effective without the efficient and rapid services that were
provided for us by the Israelis.”
Plat was also appreciative of the
cooperation of government ministers from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
“Everyone helped us to carry out our mission,” he
He hoped that the Russian firefighting tactics and technology that
his team had shared with their Israeli counterparts would prove useful in the
future, and that what his team had done would contribute to the friendship
between the two countries.