Israeli gov’t rejects Ebola relief request, Israeli NGO already in Sierra Leone


(JTA) — The Israeli government reportedly denied a U.S. request to assist in medical relief in Ebola-stricken West African countries, but an Israeli NGO is already on the ground in Sierre Leone.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon rejected the request, which first came to the Israeli Foreign Ministry from Samantha Power, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations, Ynet reported Wednesday. In the request, Power cited Israel’s past successes in providing medical relief in disaster-stricken areas.

The Foreign Ministry favored the request, Ynet said, but sought the approval of the Defense Ministry. Yaalon denied it, citing the risk of infection to Israeli medical teams and the army troops needed to secure them in West Africa. Israel’s assistance was sought in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Meanwhile, the Israeli non-governmental organization IsraAid, which receives support from U.S. Jews, met this week with the first lady of Sierra Leone and is in discussions with local authorities about how to provide psychological and social counseling and increase local health awareness. IsraAid founder Shachar Zahavi told JTA that his organization is also in the process of recruiting medical personnel to join those treating the affected area in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

In the coming months IsraAid plans to send over 30 experts in post-traumatic stress disorder prevention and stress management to West Africa to conduct intensive training for local social workers and health workers.

The idea, according to IsraAid is “to provide them with practical tools in stress management and trauma prevention techniques. The program will be based on IsraAid’s world-renowned holistic approach developed and implemented after disasters in Haiti, Japan, South Sudan, Jordan and other countries around the world.”

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