In November 2012, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist groups based in Gaza launched a weeklong fusillade of rockets aimed at civilian targets, killing six Israelis and injuring hundreds before IDF retaliatory strikes forced a ceasefire.
Hamas’ rockets have generally been regarded as rudimentary, relying on a point-and-shoot-and-adjust strategy with no onboard guidance system. Nevertheless, over the years, Hamas has been able to improve the range of its rockets. As a result, in the 2012 conflict, some of the terrorist group’s rockets fell very near to Israel’s National Blood Services Center, operated by Magen David Adom, Israel’s national emergency medical and blood-services organization. The rockets forced moving MDA’s blood-services laboratories and Israel’s blood reserves into the center’s bomb shelter to protect the precious medical resource and to ensure the continuation of MDA’s blood-processing work.
“For years, we had known we would eventually have to build a new blood-services center to accommodate the growing needs of Israel’s rapidly growing population,” said Eli Bin, director-general of Magen David Adom. “But that conflict also highlighted the need for a new facility that would be protected against missile, biological, and chemical attack.
“If Hamas could come that close to our blood center with home-made rockets, we were even more concerned with what Hezbollah [in Lebanon] could do with the GPS-guided missiles it gets from Iran. We knew we had to act quickly.”
With that in mind, MDA asked its American donor organization, American Friends of Magen David Adom, to finance the construction of a new facility, one that would not only have a bigger blood-processing capacity, but would be reinforced against military attacks from Israel’s enemies. It would also have to be protected against earthquakes since Israel lies on two seismic faults.
The new blood center, currently under construction in Ramla, will be called the Marcus National Blood Services Center, named in recognition of the Marcus Foundation, the philanthropy of Billi and Bernie Marcus of Atlanta, which made a $25 million gift toward the facility. Excavation for the new facility began in 2016, and with all the facility’s structural features now built, the blood center is less than a year from completion.
“It was crucial that we have a new blood center not only with increased blood-processing capabilities,” said Prof. Eilat Shinar, M.D., deputy director-general and director of blood services for Magen David Adom, “but also a facility that would enable us to continue blood-processing operations without interruption, especially when Israel was under attack, when blood would likely be needed most. The new facility will also allow us to introduce cutting-edge technologies in blood processing and testing, to ensure the best blood safety and quality for the recipients who need this lifesaving therapy.”
The facility is crucial to Israel’s security, she said, because Magen David Adom collects, safety-tests, and distributes nearly all the blood in Israel, including all the blood used by IDF soldiers in times of war and peace. As a result, the project has been classified as a strategic priority by Israel’s Home Front Command and by the Prime Minister’s Office.
American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA) has raised more than $110 million to finance the construction of the lifesaving facility. But it needs about $20 million more to complete the project, says Catherine Reed, chief development officer for AFMDA.
“For Americans who have an abiding love of Israel and its people, there’s literally no more important a philanthropic project than completing this facility and putting it into operation before the next crisis, whether its rocket attacks from Gaza or even more potentially deadly strikes from Hezbollah,” she said. “People talk about wanting to make a gift with impact. I can think of nothing more impactful than saving thousands of lives.”
For information about sponsoring a laboratory or other facility at the Marcus National Blood Services Center, call your nearest AFMDA office or contact Catherine Reed at +1 (646) 388-7503 or email [email protected].