Contributed by CAMERA intern Sarah Salinger
On Saturday, April 25th, a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck 39 regions of Nepal—the most destructive natural disaster in over 80 years for the Himalayan country. Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, which had once been filled with rich culture and historical and religious sites, has now been reduced to pure rubble. With the death toll past 5,000 and the injured amassed to almost 10,000, Nepal cannot repair on its own.
The affected regions, many of which are immediately surrounding Kathmandu, have been flooded not only with destruction and disaster, but also with international relief. Israel was one of the readied countries first on the scene, with their entire crew arriving less than 24 hours after the deadly earthquake.
This unprecedented relief effort from Israel includes 260 people who are well-trained and ready to help. These 260 include 10 paramedics from Magen David Adom (Israel’s Red Cross), two MGA doctors, and 240 IDF members, coming from the IDF Medical Corps and the Home Front Command, along with other IDF medical experts. This devoted and well-prepared medical staff has already established a field hospital and has been leading and taking part in search and rescue efforts around the country.
Compared to Israel’s 260-person relief crew sent to Nepal, all other countries combined have sent 276 personnel.
Hours after the earthquake, the IAF (Israeli Air Force) was ready to send two Boeing 747 planes to Nepal carrying 90 tons of humanitarian aid. Even so, because Israel couldn’t bring over cranes and other large search and rescue supplies, IDF search and rescue crews have been sifting through rubble with pick axes and even their bare hands—refusing to let lack of high-tech supplies get in their way of locating a missing person. Along with missing Nepalese civilians, the IDF is also committed to locating the over 200 missing or stranded Israeli citizens who were in Nepal at the time of the devastating quake.
Sending immediate on-the-ground help to countries hit by natural disasters is nothing new to the IDF. Besides their relief efforts in Nepal, Israel has also sent crews to Haiti (2010), Japan (2011), and the Philippines (2009).