While the work of the IDF field hospital will come to a close this week, Israeli personnel, including NGOs, will remain in the country to provide assistance and support in various ways to the local population.
PM Netanyahu: "You showed the world the IDF’s true face."
– IDF medical and rescue team concludes mission in Haiti

During its stay in Haiti, the medical delegation treated more than 1,110 patients, conducted 319 successful surgeries, and delivered 16 babies. The IDF Search and Rescue force rescued or assisted in the rescue of 4 individuals.

 Israeli aid to Haiti, field hospital set up


Photos: IDF Spokesperson

The first Israeli delegation landed in the capital of Port-Au-Prince on Friday evening (15 January) and established its operation center in a soccer field near the airport. On Tuesday night (Jan. 19), an additional team joined the IDF forces operating in Haiti since the earthquake, consisting of GOC of the Home Front Command, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, CEO of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Eitan Hai-Am, and the Chief Medical officer, Brig. Gen. Nahman Esh. After landing, the team arrived at the IDF field hospital and was updated on the current situation regarding the treatment of victims.

Israeli Ambassador Amos Radian and Maj. Gen Yair Golan, head of the IDF Home Front Command, met with the Prime Minister of Haiti and toured the demolished UN headquarters and other disaster areas in order to asses the continuation of Israeli aid.

During its stay in Haiti, the medical delegation treated more than 1,110 patients, conducted 319 successful surgeries, delivered 16 births including three in Cesarian sections. The IDF Search and Rescue force has rescued or assisted in the rescue of 4 individuals.

IDF medical and rescue team concludes mission in Haiti – Delegation to return to Israel on Thursday
(Communicated by the IDF Spokesperson)

The IDF medical and rescue team sent to Haiti has concluded its operations Wednesday, January 27, 2010. The delegation’s 236 members, including 218 IDF soldiers and officers and 18 civilians, will leave Haiti on board an air-plane chartered from El-Al and will land at the Ben-Gurion International Airport tomorrow at 8:30. The delegation will be welcomed in a military ceremony (opening at 9:00) at the presence of senior Israeli officials and senior IDF Commanders.

On board the air plane is a five year old child from Haiti who is scheduled to go through a heart surgery in order to correct a heart deficiency.

The delegation left 30 tons of medical equipment for use in the ongoing aid effort. This includes bandaging gear, surgery equipment, two incubators and other medical accessories as well as 1150 blankets, 30 large-sized tents, 500 mattresses, 200 sleeping bags and kitchen equipment. The equipment will be distributed to tent-cities in different locations in Haiti, under the coordination of the Israeli ambassador in the country.

Yesterday, the delegation held a ceremony to mark the closing of the field hospital set up in Haiti. Col. Itzik Kryce, commander of the field hospital, conveyed his great appreciation to the medical staff and said: "You were a drop of hope in a sea of desperation and sometimes made the difference between life and death. It is a great privilege, and you’ve done it as human beings, following the spirit of the IDF and in accordance with the values of the IDF Medical Corps. Col. Kryce also said: "We came here to lend a hand and provide assistance, but above all, in order to provide hope and to show that even in the worst situations, a human being can be a symbol of hope to others, wherever they may be".

The delegation left for the disaster struck area 12 days ago, on January 15, 2010, comprised of rescue teams from the IDF Home Front Command and Medical personnel from the IDF Medical Corps. The delegation also included a logistical section, security personnel, C4I personnel, search and identification personnel and additional assistance.

During its stay in Haiti, the delegation treated more than 1110 patients, conducted 319 successful surgeries, delivered 16 births including three in Caesarian sections and saved many from within the ruins.

– "We worked until we collapsed" (Israel 21c)
A doctor with the Israeli delegation tells ISRAEL21c what it was like to try to save as many lives as possible in Haiti, after the devastating earthquake.

Jan 28: PM Netanyahu welcomes home the Israeli delegation to Haiti

On January 13th, tragedy struck Haiti. Approximately forty hours later, maybe even thirty-six hours later, when I requested that a delegation be sent, they were already on their way! Less than one day later, they were already in the field. The plan was to erect the field hospital within twenty hours – it took just ten. The 240 members of the delegation – officers, regular soldiers and reservists – began working in record time. The Chief of General Staff told me that the other armies were in awe, expressing their amazement at how quickly our soldiers arrived and were ready to work.

Anyone familiar with the IDF, and the ever-changing situations and impossible missions it has dealt with in the past, was not surprised. Thorough planning is a necessity in any mission. However, the greatest test of our power, both as a people and an army, is our ability to react and rescue people quickly, while simultaneously making life-and-death decisions. You have once again proven to the world your vast abilities and expertise. But you have also done so much more. You lifted the spirits of men and brought honor to the State of Israel and the IDF, especially at a time when there are so many who attack us and distort the truth. By the way, I didn’t see too many of the armies of those who attempt to vilify us in Haiti. I am proud to say that you showed the world the IDF’s true face.

For me, the IDF and its importance was again manifested in yesterday’s experience.  I returned yesterday from another place where there was a horrifying tragedy; not a natural disaster, but one caused by human nature- the most atrocious cruelty directed against our people and towards all people in history. In Auschwitz, no one came in the hour of need to rescue our people. But today, there exists a force, the Israel Defense Forces, which defends first and foremost our people, but as you demonstrated, not only our people. It mobilizes to help people in need all across the globe.

Yesterday, you were on the other side of the planet. Today, I salute you. Be sure that the entire world is appreciative. On behalf of the State of Israel and the entire fair, sincere and honest human race, it gives me great honor to say, thank you and well done, IDF."

* * *

Other Israeli relief operations in Haiti

– Update January 17
– Update January 18
– Update January 19
– Update January 22
– Update January 25
Israel 21c: Israel prepares for the long-haul in quake-stricken Haiti

Israel Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev (21 Jan 2010):

I wish to express sincere and heartfelt condolences and  feelings of solidarity on behalf of the people of Israel to  the people of Haiti. We are deeply saddened over the deaths of the UN personnel in Haiti. Our greatest tribute to them would be to continue and further their efforts.

During times of such catastrophic destruction we must all offer assistance and support to the victims. From the moment the terrible news broke, Israel resolved to assist in whatever way we can. As such, by January 15th Israel had already deployed over 200 personnel and rapidly constructed and began to operate a field hospital in Port-Au-Prince, a hospital that has the capacity to treat over 500 patients a day.  The personnel that have been dispatched include Israeli Defense Forces’ search and rescue teams, forensic teams, and medical teams.

Upon arrival, these teams started working around the clock assisting local authorities, UN agencies and other national teams with their search and rescue efforts. As of yesterday, the field hospital has performed 140 life-saving operations, and has delivered seven babies.

Additionally, in response to the UN’s emphasis on the urgency of ensuring security in Haiti, Israel has just announced that a delegation of Israeli police officers will join the UN peacekeeping force in Haiti.

The work before us is immense. Israel will continue its efforts to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Haiti. Our hearts and prayers are with them, we mourn their losses, and we hope for a better future for the people of Haiti.

The Israel aid mission

Two teams, comprised of search and rescue personnel and canine operators from the IDF canine unit, were sent out on rescue missions. The first team was sent to the Haiti UN headquarters in order to assist in rescuing survivors. The rescue teams are working in cooperation with local authorities in order to reach disaster-struck areas where survivors can be located and assisted.

IDF photos:
– Israeli aid arrives in Haiti
– Israeli search and rescue team enters Port-au-Prince University which collapsed while classes were in session to assist in the evacuation of survivors and victims
– Canine operator and his dog search in the ruins of UN headquarters in Haiti
– Survivors treated by Israeli doctors

The Israeli field hospital was established in order to provide a first response to the citizens of Haiti until the arrival of additional medical forces capable of dealing with the magnitude of the situation. With the presence of American airplanes which brought with them equipment to build another hospital in Haiti, along with additional medical centers which have opened in the disaster zone, the activities of the Israeli field hospital will come to a close.

The delegation has begun, as part of a broad international effort, to bring hundreds of thousands of Port-au-Prince residents to tent cities outside of the capital. Three water towers with a capacity of up to 12,000 liters of water each, were built by the delegation’s representatives in order to supply the residents with a water infrastructure. Shelters and tents have also been constructed in order to provide refuge for those who have lost their homes. Israeli civil engineers also opened central traffic routes that had been blocked in the aftermath of the earthquake.



 Israeli aid to Haiti, field hospital set up

Mike, age 4, diagnosed with leukemia (Photo: IDF Spokesperson)

Mike, a four year old Hatian boy, was brought to the IDF field hospital in Port-au-Prince this morning by his father because of vomiting and weakness. Mike, his two siblings and his parents had been living on the street since the earthquake because their house was destroyed.

Dr. Amit Assa ran blood tests, and diagnosed him with acute myelogenous leukemia, most likely M5. Given the diagnosis, Mike will most likely need chemotherapy and probably a bone marrow transplant.

Because the IDF field hospital is not equipped to deal with such long-term and complex treatments, and because his condition was urgent, we tried to find an organization to arrange for him to go to the United States and recieve treatment there. There was an overwhelming and rapid response from many different individuals and organizations, and a few hours ago a group called "God’s Planet" came to the field hospital to pick up Mike and take him to Miami Hospital where he will be recieving treatment for his cancer.

 Israeli aid to Haiti, field hospital set up

Children’s ward at the IDF Field Hospital in Haiti (Photo: IDF Spokesperson)


The IDF field hospital in Haiti has a fully equipped childrens department with 9 pediatrics doctors, where the young victims of the earthquake which devastated Haiti over a week ago, are being treated. Dozens of children have been treated at the hospital, including two young siblings who were rescued from the rubble after seven days by an American search and rescue team. The brother and sister were in good condition, and were released from the Israeli field hospital later the same day.

Update 25 January:

The IDF medical and rescue team in Haiti will finish its operations in the next few days and its members will return to Israel by Thursday (28 January), after completing its mission in the region. The decision came following the arrival of additional aid forces to Haiti, including the United States military and other, civilian aid, who are now providing regular medical services. Furthermore, many of the local hospitals have reached a sufficient level of functionality.

On Tuesday, January 26, the team is scheduled to cease receiving new patients and begin preparing towards returning to Israel on a direct flight on Wednesday. The delegation is scheduled to arrive at the Ben Gurion Airport by Thursday afternoon. A few dozen patients treated at the IDF field hospital were already transferred to the American hospital in Haiti, and others will be transferred to additional medical facilities.

Part of the equipment brought by the delegation will remain in Haiti for use by the various medical personnel, including tents, medications and other medical equipment. Heavy equipment will be brought back to Israel.In the last few days, after most rescue operations were concluded, much of the delegation’s efforts were turned to other forms of civilian assistance, including setting up water tanks assisting daily life, and more.

The IDF Chief of the General Staff approved the recommendation by his Deputy and by the OC Home Front Command to conclude the mission.

* * *

Other Israeli relief operations in Haiti:

 Israeli aid to Haiti, field hospital set up

Photo: ZAKA

ZAKA rescue unit in Haiti pulls eight students alive from collapsed university building

The six-man ZAKA delegation (four from Israel and two from Mexico) had arrived in Haiti aboard a Mexican air force Hercules, immediately after completing their work in recovery and identification in the Mexico City helicopter crash.

On arrival, the ZAKA delegation was dispatched to the collapsed 8-story university building where cries could be heard from the trapped students. After 38 hours of work around the clock working with the Mexican military delegation and other Jewish volunteers from Mexico, the ZAKA volunteers succeeded Saturday in pulling eight students alive from the rubble.

Amid the stench and chaos, the ZAKA delegation took time out to recite Shabbat prayers – a surreal sight of ultra-orthodox men wrapped in prayer shawls standing on the collapsed buildings. Many locals sat quietly in the rubble, staring at the men as they prayed facing Jerusalem. At the end of the prayers, they crowded around the delegation and kissed the prayer shawls.

IsraAID medical team treats injured in Port-au-Prince Hospital

 Israeli aid to Haiti, field hospital set up


 Israeli aid to Haiti, field hospital set up

Photos: IsraAID

Just minutes after landing in the airport in Port-au-Prince the IsraAID team was met by David Darg, Operation Blessing Director in the field, and his staff, and joined with them to unload a planeload of food and medical equipment.

The Israeli medical professionals of IsraAID – F.I.R.S.T., in conjunction with Latet, traveled to the main Port-au-prince Hospital to start treating patients, joining local physicians at the site of the collapsed central hospital, where thousands of wounded have gathered desperate for help.

"The scenes in the hospital were horrible; we saw people everywhere – on the floors in the building and outside; people with amputations and bone-deep wounds, hundreds of them. The size of the catastrophe is unbelievable. All of the injured were treated, until we came, by only one local doctor, and we were the first foreign backup team to operate in the hospital," said Nurse Sheva Cohen from Kibbutz Ein Yahav in the Negev.

When the team arrived at the hospital, they found most of the injured outside the building, lying in beds in the building’s garden, probably out of fear of aftershocks and further collapse. The IsraAID team set up treatment rooms in four empty rooms, treating 60 patients with IV and administered medicine. While in the hospital, an infant with 60% burns died, and bodies that had not yet been removed for burial were piled up in back.

In the meantime, the logistical personnel remain in the airport area to set up camp and assist local NGO partners with logistical support for relief items that were continuing to land.

Currently the teams are working around the clock to provide assistance to the injured. In light of the scale of the disaster, IsraAID is currently focused on expanding the scale of its operation, preparing an additional team that would be sent next week.

IsraAID’s emergency response in Haiti is supported through the generous donations of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, American Jewish Committee, Bna’i B’rith International, and The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago in addition to other federations in North America.

Jan 24: IsraAID expands its relief operations, as a second medical team departs for Haiti. IsraAID is currently working in partnership with other international teams to assess the situation in the surrounding hill area and to determine the medical needs on the ground including post-trauma interventions and with the movement of victims to refugee camps the purchase of additional relief items to sustain them.

 Israeli aid to Haiti, field hospital set up


 Israeli aid to Haiti, field hospital set up

IsraAID team providing emergency medical aid on the soccer field
Photos: IsraAID

Update (Jan 18): The Israeli medical personnel of IsraAID/FIRST have been operating in Port-au-Prince for the last four days, both within the government hospital in the city as well as outside the facility. 

The 15 members of the team have been asked by Operation Blessing, its partner on the ground, to operate in a local football stadium where over 2,000 injured people have been gathering who are in need of emergency medical aid. Upon arrival, the team was greeted by thousands of wounded people, and more started to arrive as word spread that a medical team was in place and treating people.  

Due to the growing need for assistance, IsraAID/FIRST will be sending an additional team of 12 medical and logistical staff during the coming weekend into the field to increase the ability to respond to the emergency. Medical and other urgent supplies will be purchased in the Dominican Republic and some of the items arriving from the US will be used as well.