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Israel, Jewish groups sending help to Haiti

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel has sent a delegation of experts to Haiti and U.S. Jewish groups are collecting donations in the aftermath of a massive earthquake.

The Israel group sent to the Caribbean nation includes engineering, medical, logistics and rescue experts from the Israel Defense Forces’ Home Front Command.

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Tuesday afternoon was the strongest in Haiti in 200 years. The National Palace and United Nations peacekeeper headquarters were among the many buildings that suffered damage.

Israel’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic, who also serves Haiti, said Wednesday morning that the embassy had not been able to reach Jewish families in Haiti due to downed telephone lines.

The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid, a coordinating body of Israeli and Jewish organizations and other interested parties based in Israel, also was set to dispatch a 12-man search-and-rescue team, which includes emergency medical staff. IsraAID also was considering sending a field hospital, including doctors and medical equipment, as well as humanitarian aid.

Relatives of Sharona Elsaieh, daughter of the late peace activist Abie Nathan, say she is missing and have turned to Israel’s Foreign Ministry for assistance. Two other Israelis, a woman and her 9-year-old son, also have been reported missing.

Several other Israelis also live in Haiti, according to reports.

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. 

"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."

 
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