Israel sends rescue team to Haiti as several Israelis are missing

Though Haiti does not have much of a Jewish community left, the Jewish world is mobilizing to help out in the recovery from last night’s massive earthquake.

In the United States, several Jewish groups — including the American Jewish World Service (www.ajws.org/haitiearthquake), American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (www.jdc.org), American Jewish Committee (www.ajc.org/haitifund) and B’nai B’rith International (https://secure.ga1.org/05/web_relief_donations) — have set up mailboxes for people to make donations. And Israel has send over rescue workers to help in the general cause and to find several missing Israelis. 

From Haaretz:

The Israeli Foreign Ministry on Wednesday dispatched a rescue team to the disaster-stricken country, saying later that three Israelis are unaccounted for in Haiti, among them the daughter of late Israeli peace activist Abie Nathan.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday ordered the Defense Ministry, Foreign Ministry and Public Security Ministry to act quickly to render humanitarian assistance to the Caribbean nation. 

It seemed clear that the death toll from Tuesday afternoon’s magnitude-7.0quake would run into the thousands. France’s foreign minister said the head of the UN peacekeeping mission was apparently among the dead.

IsraAid, a coordinating body of Israeli and Jewish humanitarian aid and first response groups, has sent a 12-man search and rescue team that includes emergency medical staff. It is asking the Israeli public for donations to support the Israeli civilian aid. 

Relatives say that Sharona Elsaieh, daughter of the late peace activist Abie Nathan, is missing and have turned to Jerusalem’s Foreign Ministry for assistance. Several other Israelis also live in Hati, according to reports.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee:

From the Joint: JDC is conducting a full and rapid assessment of the situation on the ground, and reaching out to its network of partners to determine critical next steps based on immediate needs of the hardest-hit areas. The efforts are part of JDC’s International Development Program (IDP), which provides immediate relief and long-term assistance to victims of natural and manmade disasters. JDC and its partners worldwide have implemented similar relief efforts and continue to operate programs designed to rebuild infrastructure and community life in disaster-stricken regions.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti in the wake of this overwhelming disaster, and as we did following Hurricane Gustav in 2008, JDC will leverage its strong partnerships in the region to respond quickly and compassionately to the needs of those affected," said Steven Schwager, JDC’s Chief Executive Officer. "Now and in the months to come, JDC will provide both immediate relief as well as long-term assistance to help the Haitian people rebuild their lives."

The American Jewish Committee’s David Harris: "Battered by repeated hurricanes and floods, and a generation of political upheaval, the people of Haiti have again become victims – and they urgently need our help,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris.

B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick: “The massive scale of the earthquake will require an international support network. Our ongoing partnership with IsraAID means our help can go a lot further. We extend our deepest sympathies to the people of Haiti as they face the consequences of another natural disaster.”

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