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Jewish Journal

Israel in Haiti

by Rob Eshman

January 19, 2010 | 2:50 pm

Sunday on CNN a reporter visited a makeshift American hospital and interviewed Dr. Jennifer Furin, of Harvard Medical School, as she stood in desperation over a dying patient.  Frustration brought Dr. Furin near to tears.  The man had survived the earthquake only to die a slow and agonizing death from infection in an ill-equipped hospital.

“I’ve been here since Thursday,” Furin said.  “No one but the Israelis has taken any of our patients.”

Cut to the Israeli field hospital near Port au Prince.  The reporter tours the facility speechless by what she sees: an MRI machine, patients on respirators, operating stations and beds. In a matter of 48 hours, the Israel Defense Force medical mission and search-and-rescue crews arrived in Haiti.  The medical team established a field hospital adjacent to Port-au-Prince’s soccer stadium that can treat as many as 500 patients per day. The field hospital is equipped with:

• Operating rooms
• An intensive care ward
• A maternity ward
• A pediatrics ward
• Incubator units
• A pharmacy
• X-ray equipment
• 10 tons of medical equipment
• 90 beds, 66 intensive care beds and two delivery beds
• Approximately 250 personnel, including 40 doctors and specialists, 20 nurses and several paramedics.

The IDF team included medical personnel from Sheba Medical Center, ZAKA, Magen David Adom, IsraAID/First and other organizations. 

“Our medical aid delegation to Haiti expresses the true heritage of the State of Israel and the Jewish People,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “This act joins similar action we have taken in the past in Mexico, Kenya and Turkey. We may be a small country, but we are a country with a big heart. This is the expression of Jewish ethics and heritage – to help others.”

Cynics will say this is just Israel trying to burnish its image.  They will say it hardly makes up for the damage Israel did in the last Gaza War. But fair-minded people will hear the report below and understand, to paraphrase Ben Gurion, It doesn’t matter what the critics say, it matters what the Israelis in Haiti do.

Just ask the Haitians.

CNN’s coverage of Israel in Haiti

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