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Israeli Medical and Rescue Teams Arrive in Haiti

  • Robert Berger

Israel has joined international humanitarian efforts in earthquake-stricken Haiti.

Two jumbo jets carrying Israeli personnel, equipment and supplies have arrived in Haiti to join in rescue and relief efforts. The 220-member Israeli delegation includes 40 doctors and 24 nurses who will set up a field hospital that can treat 500 people a day. The hospital has two operating rooms, X-ray equipment, children's and maternity wards, and a pharmacy.

"Of course, we have special expertise to deal with events of mass casualties; unfortunately we have that expertise because of the terror events that we suffered from," explained Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Shahar Arieli.

The Israeli delegation also includes an elite army search and rescue team, which has experience both at home and abroad, including the Turkey Earthquake in 1999 and the bombing of the United States Embassy in Nairobi in 1998.

"It is relatively a small unit, but again, it has its experience from the past, so we hope to contribute. And every drop of help is needed in Haiti, and I think we can offer a lot," Arieli said.

Delfin Antonio Rodriguez, civil defense chief in neighboring Dominican Republic, says one of the major obstacles in helping the people of Haiti is the lack of functioning hospitals, most of which were destroyed by Tuesday's massive earthquake.

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