The helmet of an Israeli soldier and member of an aid delegation is seen as he waits for a flight to Nepal at Ben Gurion international airport near Tel Aviv, Israel April 26, 2015..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel extended offers of aid Sunday to the US and Mexico following a string of devastating natural disasters.
The government unanimously approved a proposal at the weekly cabinet meeting put forward by Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett for a $1 million aid package to help rebuild Jewish institutions in Houston hit badly by Hurricane Harvey.
“This is a time for the Jewish State to help our Diaspora brothers at their time of need,” Bennett said. “They helped us when we needed it, it is our turn to help them.”
Bennett said the funds, which which will go to assist in the rebuilding of schools, synagogues and the local JCC that were damaged by the hurricane, are a “clear message about mutual responsibility.”
According to statement put out by Bennett, many of the schools and synagogues serving the 60,000-strong Jewish community cannot be used, and the community’s senior citizens home and JCC have suffered extensive water damage.
Regarding Mexico, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, set to leave for Latin America this evening
, told the cabinet Sunday that when he meets Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto on Wednesday, he will offer Israel's assistance to areas hit by the devastating earthquake there last Thursday.
Netanyahu said these are “not easy days for Mexico,” and sent his condolences to the victims of the disaster. At least 90 people were killed and hundreds more injured in the earthquake which badly hit the states of Tabasco, Oaxaca and Chiapas.
Netanyahu characterized his trip to Argentina, Colombia, Mexico -- and from there to New York where he will address the UN General Assembly -- as “historic,” inasmuch as it will be the first ever visit by a serving Israeli prime minister to South or Central America.
“This visit will strengthen our economic, security and technological ties with Latin America, and will constitute the continued strengthening of Israel's position in the world, something we are leading in a successful and systematic manner,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nadav Argaman, the head of the Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet) briefed the cabinet before Netanyahu's departure.
Netanyahu said before that briefing that the Shin Bent thwarted the efforts of more than 70 cells that were planning attacks. “Israeli citizens don't know everything that the Shin Bet does,” he said. “I want to express my deep appreciation to the Shin Bet and all who deal with this important work for Israel's security.”