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Israel Continues to Help Nepal After Quake

May 4, 2015

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.”  (Proverbs 3:27)

Israeli rescue teams continue to search for survivors among the rubble of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25th.

On Saturday, the Nepalese government announced that the death toll from the previous weekend’s quake tops 7,250.  The government numbered the injured at 14,122.

Nepalese Home Ministry spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakal did not hold much hope that more survivors would be found among the rubble.

“It will be a miracle if anyone is found alive,” Dhakal said.  “But we have not completely given up yet and are continuing to look.”

Israeli aid to Nepal-April 2015 earthquake

Zaka and Ichud Hatzalah members of the Israeli search and rescue mission to Nepal take part in life-saving efforts in Nepal.  (Photo: Zaka Spokesperson)

One such miracle did occur on Saturday when a 101-year-old-man was pulled from the rubble of his home.

Efforts by the Israeli military in Nepal to save lives also include pulling a 24-year-old Nepalese woman out of the rubble of a hotel on Thursday.  She was buried for five days.

“It’s nothing short of a miracle,” said IsraAid’s Yotam Polizer.  “It was hard to believe that anyone could have survived for that long.”

In another hotel just streets away, a 15-year-old boy was dug out from the rubble earlier in the day.

“When the young woman was finally extracted and carried away to a waiting ambulance, it was to the great relief of the large crowd that had gathered, bringing hope that others may yet be alive,” IsraAid Founding Director Shachar Zahavi said.  (Times of Israel)

Himalayas-Nepal-Langtang Village-Langtang Valley

The village of Langtang is located in the Langtang Valley.  (Photo by Yosarian)

Sadly, no such miracle occurred for 22-year-old Israeli Or Asraf, the only Israeli to die in the earthquake.  About an hour before the earthquake he decided to walk ahead of the group that he was with.

His body was located Sunday morning in the Langtang region of Nepal, north of Kathmandu, the country’s capital.  The village of Langtang was entirely wiped out in an avalanche.

Asraf is a veteran of last summer’s “Protective Edge” operation in the Gaza Strip and had been missing since the 7.8 magnitude quake hit Nepal.

When Asraf’s father and two friends searched the guesthouse where Asraf was said to have stayed and found no trace of him, he called for a heightened air rescue.

After two helicopters headed back on Sunday to the Langtang region carrying Or’s army friends, his body was located.

A difficult, complex rescue will be carried out Monday.

“We are incredibly saddened that our efforts ended in this way.  In all the days of searching for Or, we had the hope of finding him alive and bringing him back to his family,” Eli Beer, president of United Hatzalah, stated.

“Despite our efforts, when we found Or he was no longer alive.  We take comfort in the fact that thanks to our volunteers’ efforts, Or will be buried in Israel.”

Israel Defense Forces soldier-Nepalese woman on stretcher

An Israel Defense Forces soldier treats a Nepalese woman.

The quake was Nepal’s deadliest in at least 80 years.  It leveled much of the capital city of Kathmandu.  

In its ongoing relief efforts, Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced Thursday that Israel is committed to a long-term program for reconstruction in Nepal following the quake, the country has pledged to reconstruct an entire village.  (JSpace) 

“After consulting with various departments in the Foreign Ministry, we decided to adopt a village in Nepal, to assist with its reconstruction and to do our utmost to help people who have really found themselves in a difficult situation,” Lieberman said in a government briefing.

Nissim Ben-Sheetrit, the foreign ministry’s director general said, “We, the professional staff, will start to work after the dust has settled and it’ll be possible to talk with Nepali authorities about the location of the village and the matter of the reconstruction.”

Israel was one of the first nations to dispense rescue helicopters and a field hospital along with search and rescue teams to the shaken nation.  It has the second largest rescue presence in Nepal next to India.

newborn Nepalese-IDF field hospital

A baby born in the IDF field hospital in Nepal.

There have been some bright moments for rescue workers.

Israel’s field hospital is still in operation and as of May 3 had treated 578 patients.  To date, 43 life-saving surgeries have been performed and six babies have been delivered.

Meanwhile, the local Chabad (an ultra-Orthodox Jewish outreach) announced that it has prepared 2,000 meals for local citizens in Nepal, and the Chabad emissary, Rabbi Chezky Lifshitz took to the skies himself in a Nepalese government helicopter, leading a rescue mission to find stranded Israelis. 

On Friday, the last of Israeli backpackers that had been stranded in inaccessible locations were airlifted to safety.

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