Netanyahu meets with parents of missing Israelis in NZ

Netanyahu to speak with New Zealand prime minister on efforts to find Israelis, material assistance to disaster victims.

February 27, 2011 21:06
2 minute read.
Ofer Levy and Gabi Ingel

missing israelis new zealand 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met on Sunday with the families of two Israeli backpackers still missing in New Zealand, as local police identified the body of Ofer Mizrahi from Kibbutz Magal, as of one of those killed in Tuesday’s devastating earthquake.

Netanyahu met with the parents of Ofer Levy and Gabi Ingel, both 22, who remain unaccounted for in New Zealand, and who were seen in Christchurch about 20 minutes before the earthquake hit the city.

New Zealand earthquake toll at 146 dead
4 Israelis still unaccounted for in New Zealand

“There are fears for their lives,” and he will speak to New Zealand Prime Minister John Key about ways to accelerate efforts to search for them, Netanyahu told Sunday’s cabinet meeting.

Israelis who went to New Zealand in a private capacity to help in search and recovery have complained that the New Zealand authorities have stymied their efforts.

Foreign Ministry officials said on Sunday that New Zealand is one of the world’s leaders in rescue operations of this nature. The officials said the reason Wellington accepted help in searching for the missing from countries such as Japan, China, Britain and the US was because a large numbers of their nationals were feared trapped under the rubble.

While accepting assistance from those countries, New Zealand politely said, “No thank you” to teams from Israel, as well as from Italy and India. The reason, ministry officials said, was because they did not want “too many people there running through their legs” and hindering the rescue operations.

Levy’s sister Dafi Levy asked that anyone with information about her brother and Ingel’s whereabouts just before the earthquake to contact her at Levy said it was unlikely her brother and Ingel survived, but that information about where they were just before the earthquake hit could help in finding their bodies.

Netanyahu was expected to speak by phone with the New Zealand prime minister late on Sunday night, to talk about efforts to find the missing Israelis, as well as providing material assistance – in the way of water purifiers and temporary housing units – that the New Zealanders have asked for.

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