JERUSALEM (Jun. 17)
There has been an enthusiastic response from around the country to a project for home hospitality for South Lebanese mothers and children rendered homeless by the war.
According to Naaman (Pioneer Women), thousands of Israeli families from all sections of the populace have responded to the organization’s call — jointly with Israel Radio and the Yediot Acharornt newspaper — to host a Lebanese mother and infant child in their homes for up to one month. Na’amat, the largest women’s voluntary organization in the country, is handling the logistics in coordination with the police and the army.
(In New York, Phyllis Sutker, president of the 50,000 member Pioneer Women/Na’amat organization in the United States, called on the groups 500 clubs and councils throughout the country to transmit to the national office all available funds in club treasuries to be forwarded to Israel for the hospitality program. She also reported that special gifts were being received from individual members of Pioneer Women/Na’amat in support of the program.)
Observers see the warm response as in some measure an expression of the discomfort felt in many quarters here at the scenes of wreckage and desolation in South Lebanese towns, especially Tyre, as they are beamed into Israeli homes by television each evening.
This is not to say that those responding to the Na’amat project are opposed to the war. Many people who justify the army’s actions, including the massive bombings, are nevertheless seeking ways of making a humanitarian contribution to the relief projects being mounted in Israel and around the world to help destitute and homeless Lebanese.
On Wednesday a convoy of 20 Mogen David Adom ambulances, carrying doctors, paramedics and other volunteers, crossed into South Lebanon to extend medical aid. Auxiliary vehicles carried blankets, clothing and ice cream for the children. The convoy was led by MDA President Dr. Arye Harel and was warmly greeted as it made its way northwards from Tel Aviv.
The convoy is due to stay in South Lebanon for two weeks to provide medical services and to transfer patients to hospitals in Israel, if needed. The medical staff will be rotated in two weeks if needed, the MDA spokesman said.
In addition, the Israel Health Ministry has earmarked $30 thousand in immediate aid for the 15-odd private hospitals in Sidon and Tyre.
Minister Eliezer Shastak has set up a committee under Prof. Shmuel Pinhas, the Hadassah Hospital director, to study medical-related problems in South Lebanon. Some of the problems already discussed by the committee were the need to inoculate children, deal with water pollution, prevent epidemics and hospitalize patients.