An Israel Police forensic team is assisting New Zealand police in the identification of victims of the earthquake

 Minister Vilnai pays condolence call to New Zealand; FM McCully expresses gratitude for Israeli help


Israel police forensic team in New Zealand (Photo: MFA)

(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson)

Israel’s Minister for Home Front Defense, Matan Vilnai, paid a condolence visit on Thursday, March 3, in Christchurch, site of the recent disastrous earthquake. The Israeli ambassador to New Zealand, Shemi Tzur, arranged the visit.

As soon as the extent of the disaster was known, the reinforced Israeli embassy staff, headed by the ambassador, established a forward command center in the vicinity of the earthquake. From there, the staff coordinated the efforts to find the missing Israelis and to extend aid to the survivors.

Since the beginning of the week, a forensic team of the Israel Police, sent to Christchurch by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has been operating in cooperation with the New Zealand police. The team is assisting in the identification of victims of the earthquake. In consideration of their important, professional contribution, the Ministry has decided to extend the team’s stay in Christchurch for another week.

During his visit, Minister Vilnai met with New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully, with the Mayor of Christchurch, Bob Parker, and with Minister for Civil Defense John Carter. He toured the city center and visited the army base where the Israeli forensic team is staying.

At his meeting with FM McCully, Vilnai expressed condolences on behalf of the Israeli people and government. Vilnai praised the professionalism of the New Zealand teams in locating the missing and assisting the survivors.

FM McCully conveyed his condolences to Israel for the death of the three young Israelis and warmly expressed his gratitude for Israel’s willingness to extend immediate assistance to his country in its difficult hour. He said that the feelings of identification expressed by Prime Minister Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Liberman and Knesset Speaker Rivlin in conversations with their New Zealand counterparts "strengthened us in this difficult time, and we thank you for that." He was effusive in his praise of the Israeli police forensic teams that performed their job in a way that inspired respect, and noted that Israel’s assistance in this important area is very welcome.