'We will help build memorial to Israelis killed in quake'

Reuven Rivlin tells Chrischurch mayor country will help construct memorial to Ofer Mizrachi, Gabi Ingel and Ofer Levy, killed in N. Zealand temblor.

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
April 12, 2011 01:58
2 minute read.
Ofer Levy and Gabi Ingel

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

 
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Israel plans to help build a memorial to the three Israelis killed in the New Zealand earthquake earlier this year, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin told Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker on Monday, during an official visit to the country.

Rivlin visited the earthquake- stricken city on the country’s South Island, where 167 people have been confirmed killed during the earthquake, among them three Israelis – Ofer Mizrachi, Gabi Ingel and Ofer Levy. City officials estimate that the official death toll will surpass 180, once emergency teams finish removing bodies from collapsed buildings.

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Rivlin and Parker discussed plans to establish a memorial in Christchurch to the Israelis who were killed in the temblor.

“There is a covenant of blood between Israel and New Zealand,” Rivlin told Parker. “New Zealand, and particularly Christchurch, are the dream of quite a few Israeli youth, and many Israelis felt genuine pain, not just solidarity, when we saw the terrible images.

“We hope to continue to encourage Israelis to come here through the work agreement for Israeli tourists that we will sign,” he continued. “No less than the Japanese, you also displayed a calm and brave attitude in face of the hardships and the uncertainty. We admire your approach regarding the response to the crisis.”

Rivlin and MK Haim Katz (Likud) toured the remains of the city, whose residents are still under evacuation orders, together with Parker. Accompanied by representatives of the local Jewish community and by rescue workers, Rivlin and Katz visited the sites where the three Israelis were killed, read Psalms at the sites, lit memorial candles and laid wreaths.

The group also visited the largely destroyed Christchurch Cathedral, where almost four dozen people were killed. There too, Rivlin laid a wreath in the name of the State of Israel. Yet another stop on the tour was the local Chabad House, which was also destroyed.

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Parker told Rivlin that Christchurch “feels the great love that Israelis hold for New Zealand, and specifically for this city.”

He thanked Israel for offering aid in the city’s rescue operations, explaining that the earthquake was unique in that its epicenter was in the city itself, and that it combined two types of seismic motion, causing buildings to move both side-to-side as well as up-and-down.

“We had never seen this kind of earthquake – not in Japan and not in other earthquakes that occurred in New Zealand – and so we weren’t prepared for it. Our challenge is now to rebuild the city to a different building standard, and to establish a safe city,” he continued.

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