Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Sunday with the commander in charge of the IDF Home Front Command's delegation to assist Nepal in the aftermath of a devastating 7.9 magnitude earthquake that has led to more than 2,200 deaths in the Himalayan country.
Speaking ahead of his meeting with Col. Yoram Laredo, commander of the Home Front Command's conscripted battalions, Netanyahu said: "You are being sent on an important mission. This is the real face of Israel - a country that offers help at any distance in moments such as these."
Netanyahu was briefed on the mission by Col. Laredo, who informed him that an advance team was already on the ground in Nepal to prepare the infrastructure for the whole delegation, which includes a field hospital.
The mission's goals are to locate missing Israelis, of which there are still some 150 who have not made contact with authorities, to rescue those trapped beneath rubble and to help treat the thousands of wounded Nepalese victims of the earthquake.
IDF delegation prepares for Nepal trip
Netanyahu wished good luck to the Home Front Command assistance team which numbers some 260 personnel.
Three large search and rescue teams will divide up into smaller crews and scour ruins to search for survivors. A command and control team will oversee the entire effort and link up to local authorities. "At the moment, we are set to take off at 22:00 for Kathmandu," Laredo added.
The planes will carry some 95 tons of equipment, including the various components of a field hospital, which will have a ward for premature babies, a labor ward, x-ray machines, and a hospitalization area, as well as lab and surgery zones.
Rescuers are bringing with them cutting equipment, electronic devices to help find trapped victims, generators, lighting equipment, and more.
"As time passes, the focus will move from search and rescue to hospital treatment. The hospital can treat 200 patients a day," Laredo said. "We can link up with local heavy engineering vehicles," he added.
Three IDF Oketz K9 dogs and their handlers will also board one of the planes to Nepal.
Many members of the delegation have taken part in past Israeli assistance teams to natural disaster zones in Haiti, and the Philippines.
In addtion to the IDF and Foreign Ministrty delegations being sent to assist in Nepal are others sent by Magen David Adom, United Hatzalah (UH), private insurance companies, ZAKA, the Israelife Foundation and F.I.R.S.T. (an umbrella organization that carries out rescues inside Israel).
“It’s a blessed thing that a variety of Israeli delegations are going, as from my experience, in situations like this, everyone who arrives will be needed and have work to do,” said Dov Meisel, a volunteer UH paramedic who runs a medical equipment company as a living. “The Nepal government asked for help, and Israelis rush to help,” he said.
The multi-disciplinary teams will work together in squads with each member carrying out the tasks that they are uniquely qualified to perform and supporting the efforts of other team members as operational conditions require. A primary focus will be setting up local aid stations in outlying regions as well as extricating and evacuating victims to the stations, Meisel added.
The insurance companies are setting up facilities especially to help any Israelis in distress. As some two dozen Israeli couples, most of them homosexuals, went to Nepal to have a baby via a woman surrogate, the pregnant women and the newborns (including premature babies) have to be helped and brought back from areas devastated by the quake, said Meisel, who plans to be in Nepal during the first stage of three weeks.
The bringing of Nepalese surrogate mothers who were hired to deliver babies for Israeli homosexual couples is controversial, as the Interior Ministry opposes this, and they do not have medical coverage here.
Former health minister MK Yael German (Yesh Atid) said Sunday that support must be found for a new Surrogacy Law that would make it possible for homosexual and lesbian couples, and not only heterosexuals, to arrange for surrogacy in Israel. At present, non-heterosexuals have to go abroad to find a surrogate. At present, if a foreign surrogate comes here as a tourist and gives birth to a baby for an Israeli, she is legally considered the mother.
MDA officials said its medical delegation flew directly to Kathmandu to set up a base to help the Israelis and the locals. The situation is complicated by avalanches and aftershocks. The delegation includes doctors, paramedics and logistical experts who brought with them drugs, medical equipment including incubators and baby food.
The MDA team includes a wide range of experts in their field with disaster response experience in Japan, Haiti and the Philippines. The multi-disciplinary teams will work together in squads with each member carrying out the tasks that they are uniquely qualified to perform and supporting the efforts of other team members as operational conditions require. A primary focus will be setting up local aid stations in outlying regions as well as extricating and evacuating victims to the stations.
As many Israelis have personally visited Nepal and have acquaintances there and others feel sorry over the catastrophe, MDA has opened a fund for donations to help the locals. Contributions can be sent to a special bank account for Survivors of the Nepal Earthquake at Bank Discount (#11), Yad Eliahu Branch (151), account number 22016.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has sent a first shipment of medications and medical supplies worth $175,000 to Nepal. The organization said this would cover the needs of 40,000 people for three months. Other than the injured, those rendered homeless by the earthquake are in need of immediate support for regular public health services, water and sanitation and psycho social support to deal with the trauma caused by the tragedy, the WHO said. Jpost.com staff contributed to this report.