On December 5, the international community marked International Volunteer Day, a day that recognizes the contribution of volunteers. The IDF (Zahal) values the act of volunteering, and therefore sends its reserve soldiers on search and rescue missions abroad.

Stretching a Helping Hand: IDF Aid Delegations

IDF (Zahal) reserve soldiers rescue a Haitian man from a government building.

In the past 26 years, Israel has stretched a helping hand to its allies hit by natural disasters, sending 14 aid delegations abroad–from India to Haiti and from Turkey to Japan. Most of the delegations were staffed with reserve soldiers from the Home Front Command‘s Search and Rescue unit and IDF (Zahal) physicians, who established field hospitals upon arrival.

In the past two decades, Israeli medical personnel have saved more than 417 people from certain death, provided medical care to more than 3,700 injured patients and delivered more than 47 babies. All Israeli delegations partnered with local and foreign medical teams in their effort to save lives.

CNN: IDF (Zahal) field hospitals in Haiti were the “only ones operating.” In January 2010, Israel joined the global effort in assisting Haiti’s earthquake victims, treating more than 1,110 patients, completing 319 successful surgeries and delivering 16 births.