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Israel Undertakes Humanitarian Aid for Lebanese in Wake of Fighting

Israel disclosed today the extensive humanitarian efforts it has undertaken on behalf of Lebanese civilians in need of medical attention or other forms of relief as a result of the fighting in that country. Many of them, begun during the heat of battle, are continuing today as a result of preparations made during the first week of fighting. They involve joint efforts by government agencies, the Israeli army and volunteer agencies.

The Cabinet appointed a committee headed by Economics Minister Yaacov Meridor to coordinate the various activities. The Defense Ministry set up a special unit to assist the civilian population in Lebanon. Premier Menachem Begin welcomed on American proposal that the two countries work together for humanitarian aid. He appointed David Kimche, Director General of the Foreign Ministry to represent Israel on a joint committee with the U.S.

During the fighting in Lebanon, Israeli military helicopters air-lifted women in the advanced stages of pregnancy to hospitals in Israel. Israel army doctors were flown to the battle front to treat the civilian population. The medical force established special facilities for the use of local residents. Their purpose was to keep existing medical centers operative in cooperation with local health institutions and with medical representatives of the United Nations and the International Red Cross.

ISRAELI HOSPITALS OPEN TO LEBANESE

At the same time, Israeli hospitals were opened to Lebanese civilians in need of medical treatment and special attention was given mothers with new-born infants. The government hospital in Nahariya is currently treating 10 patients with kidney ailments who need dialysis. Israeli authorities estimate there are presently about 100 Lebanese receiving treatment at hospitals in Israel.

A medical delegation consisting of 70 doctors, other staff and 20 ambulances was sent to Lebanon at the end of last week to help rehabilitate civilians in the coastal towns which were especially hard hit in the fighting. The government has provided a grant of 600,000 Shekels for the needs of 15 hospitals in Tyre and Sidon.

In another area of relief, the army began the distribution of food products and commodities in Lebanese cities and towns within a day or two of their capture by Israeli forces. The army also supplied water tanks, tents and temporary housing for bombed-out civilians. The Central Fuel Administration is supplying gasoline and heating oil to Lebanese towns.

VOLUNTEER RELIEF

Large scale volunteer relief projects have been established by Abie Nathan, the former “Peace Ship” broadcaster, the Magen David Adam and Na’amat, (Pioneer Women). All Magen David Adam stations in the country collected thousands of food items, clothing and blankets for Lebanese civilians. The organization also established a bank account to receive donations for the Lebanese people.

No’ amat, in cooperation with the newspaper Yediot Achronot and Voice of Israel Radio, opened temporary shelters for mothers and babies in Tyre and Sidon. More than 1000 Jewish and Arab families in Israel have volunteered to host mothers and children from Lebanon. Kibbutzim have offered shelter for hundreds of Lebanese war refugees and Lebanese merchants are being permitted to buy goods in Israel.

The army is working to restore public order in cities and towns occupied by Israeli forces. It appointed commanders to work jointly with the local mayors. In some towns, the local police have resumed their duties. Work has also begun to restore commerce and banking systems. The army meanwhile is repairing damaged roads and water pipes. As a result, hundreds of civilians who fled south Lebanon as the Israelis advanced, are returning to their homes.

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