Pictures of the Israel Defense Forces Humanitarian Assistance Operation for Refugees from Kosovo

IDF To Dispatch Field Hospital to Assist Refugees from Kosovo

Early Tuesday Morning (6 April), the Israel Defense Forces will dispatch a field hospital, under IDF Medical Corps Command , to assist Albanian refugees from Kosovo. This will mark the beginning of an operation to save human lives.
This operation comes in the wake of the Government of Israel decision regarding medical assistance to the refugees.
The IDF medical mission mission will be headed by COL Hezi Levi, Deputy Surgeon General of the IDF.
The mission will land in Skopje Macedonia and will set up the 100-bed field hospital near the border with Kosovo.
The mission is comprised of suxty men and women, including physicians, -(among them specialists in internal medicine, pediatrics, communicable diseases, orthopedics and gynecology), paramedics, nurses, medics and X-Ray technicians. The field hospital will likewise includea medical laboratory, pharmacy and operating room.

Hebron Tomb of Patriarchs To Be Open for Jewish Worshippers 4-5 April

Today (Sunday, 4 April) as of the morning hours until Monday evening (5 April) the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Cave of the Machpellah) will be open to Passover holiday Jewish worshippers. Such procedures are in accordance with the Shamgar Agreement which allows for a number of days each year in which the tomb will be open for the exclusive use of either Jewish or Moslem worshippers.

IAF Attack in Zalia Village

IAF combat aircraft attacked terrorist targets this afternoon in Zalia village in the eastern sector north of the security zone in southern Lebanon.
All aircraft returned safely to base.

IAF Attack

IAF combat aircraft attacked terrorist targets this afternoon in Zabakine village in the western sector north of the security zone in southern Lebanon.
All aircraft returned safely to base.

Explosive Device Activated Against IDF Force

An explosive device was activated this afternoon against an IDF force engaged in operational activity in the eastern sector of the security zone in southern Lebanon. There were no casualties and no damage was caused.
Security officials state that since the latest incidents in Arnoun village, during which the village was fenced in by IDF forces to prevent terrorist activity from the village. This is the second incident in which explosive charges were discovered near the village.
On 18 March, an SLA force discovered five road-side bombs that had been placed near houses in Arnoun village, on the way to the Beaufort outpost. The charges were neutralized and detonated. There were no casualties and no damage was caused.
At the same time mortar bombs were fired toward IDF and SLA outposts in the eastern sector and toward an IDF outpost in the western sector. No one was injured, however, damage was caused to the outpost in the eastern sector.
IDF artillery and SLA artillery returned fired.

IDF Medical Mission Departs For Macedonia

This morning (6 April) an IDF medical mission took off for Macedonia to render medical assistance to Albanian refugees from Kosovo.
Commander of the mission is Deputy Surgeon General, COL. Dr. Hezi Levi.
The mission comprises 70 servicemen and women including 12 physicians: a surgeon, an anesthesiologist, an orthopedic surgeon, a gynecologist, four specialists in internal medicine, two pediatricians and two physicians who immigrated from Albania and who were drafted specially for this mission. Many of the physicians are also specialists in infectious diseases and are veterans of previous IDF humanitarian missions such as those to Rwanda and Kenya.
The mission also includes two paramedics, seven nurses, medics, a medical engineer, specialists in preventive medicine, a pharmacist, as well as X-ray and laboratory technicians.
The mission will land in Skopje, Macedonia and proceed twelve kilometers north to Stenkovech, where it will set up an emergency room capable of attending to several hundred patients a day and a field hospital which can hospitalize up to a hundred patients. The hospital will be a able to perform basic general, trauma, orthopedic, and gynecological surgery.
The Israel Air Force flew the mission to Macedonia in three IAF Hercules and a Boeing.
The current mission will be for two weeks according to government decision and may be extended.
IDF Surgeon General Arie Eldad stated that the IDF Medical Corps had 36 hours to prepare the mission and did so admirably.

IDF Field Hospital Opens in Macedonia

The Field hospital which the IDF Humanitarian Assistance Mission built for the Albanian refugees from Kosovo, will open today (7 April) at 16:00 hrs and will begin treating the many refugees which have arrived to the area.
Prior to the opening of the hospital, doctors from the mission gave medical treatment to a number of urgent cases, among them a woman who had given birth and arrived to the hospital requiring immediate medical attention.

Speech of the Head of the IDF Humanitarian Assistance Mission for the Albanian Refugees from Kosovo, COL. Dr. Hezi Levi, in the Holocaust Memorial Day Ceremony, Held at the IDF Field Hospital, Stenkovech, Macedonia

My Dear Brothers,

How wonderful and mysterious are the Lord’s ways. It is not we who have chosen this site to conduct the Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony, but how symbolic it is, to raise here and now the memory of our Jewish brethren who were destroyed on European soil simply for having been Jewish.
On this soil six million Jews found their deaths, and many others were uprooted from their homes while sacrificing their lives in the fight against German Nazism, Fascism, the “ethnic purity” and “master race theory.”
On this land alone, in the Balkans, in Macedonia, there lived a vibrant Jewish community, a community that up until the Nazi oppressor’s arrival had numbered tens of thousands, and after the war’s end about only one hundred men and women remained. The rest were driven to their deaths in the Treblinka extermination camp.
Yesterday, on my way to one of the refugee camps near the Macedonia-Kosovo border, I drove through pastoral scenery: hills, mountains and forests. Suddenly my eye caught sight of silent, innocent railroad tracks. I could not avoid from being thrown back in time into the stormy period of history.
Innocent railroad tracks amongst pastoral scenery. Are they indeed innocent?
All of a sudden my ear heard the rumble of the engine, carrying railroad cars of horror; and in them, tens of thousands of cramped Jews being driven to their hideous deaths simply for having jeopardized the purity of the master race.
We hold this ceremony each year to recall the memory of our brethren.
We hold this ceremony to say to those who deny the holocaust or try to purify the Nazis of their crimes against our People and other nations who were destroyed, that the holocaust is a fact. It did take place. The blood of our brothers cries out: “Never Again!”
Our feet are standing now in a camp holding thousands of refugees who have been uprooted from their homes simply because of their ethnic belonging. Never Again!
My Brothers,
We stand here as proud representatives of the independent State of Israel celebrating its fifty-first year of existence. A proud and independent nation with an army that defends its existence and is also sent in its name to offer an outstretched hand, to provide humanitarian aid to other people beyond the seas who are suffering from hunger, sickness and deprivation.
This is the miracle that has happened to us. This is our strength. This is the secret of our existence. This is the treasure that we shall cherish and guard preciously in order to guarantee our existence, our children’s existence, and the existence of all Jews wherever they may be. Thus we shall ensure that our fate will not be similar to that of our parents, who were led to slaughter. Thus we can scream out to the world, no more killing and murder of man because of his religion, race, or nationality.
Be blessed and forever bear with you the memories of our brothers.

Remarks made by the Commander of the IDF Humanitarian Assistance mission to Macedonia on the occasion of Memorial Day 1999

Again we stand, as we do each year and bow our heads in the memory of friends who are no longer with us. Only this time, we stand as proud representatives of a nation, that though itself is only 51 years old, has sent us abroad to help alleviate the suffering of another People. How symbolic is the situation. How much we owe this to our long lost friends. The friends who were denied the opportunity to reap the fruits of their courage.
Nathan Alterman says in his moving poem:

“Weary beyond bounds, deprived of respite
Exhuding the sweet dew of Hebrew youth,
Silent, the pair shall approach
and stand without motion.
Without sign that they be living or deceased
Then shall the Nation, drenched
in tear and enchantment, ask:
Who are you?
And the silent pair
shall answer without words,
“We are the silver platter
Upon which the Land of the Jews, to you has been offered.”
So shall they speak and, shades, shall fall at her feet
And the rest shall be recounted in the History of Israel.”

Unfortunately, the history of Israel is saturated, and continues to be saturated with the blood of our comrades-in-arms, the “silver platter” upon which the state of Israel was offered and continues to exist.
Every one of us shares a part, a friend, relative, or family member who was offered on this platter. Is it my friend Uri from the battalion who in 1982 came running up to me, to the battalion surgeon’s tank during the Peace for Galilee War, while he is drinking with an impish smile, a glass of IDF-issued wine, as a charm for good fortune and longevity, and the next day I fought to save his life and declared his death, as my soul went out to his crushed body? In each one of us there is a void that opens up wide, with the death of a loved one. How difficult it is to fill that void.
How we long to just hear again, to touch, and to see, even for a split second, those whom we shall never hear or see again.
Nevertheless, we are able to do kindness for them. It is enough if we shall be able to hear them crying out; Enough of controversy; Enough of hatred.
The state of Israel was not offered to us on a “silver platter” for naught. Guard it preciously; love it; bring peace to it.
And maybe if we together succeed to do so, this empty space in our hearts might fill, just a little bit.
May their memory by with us for all eternity.

IDF Humanitarian Mission Arrives at Air-Base in Central Israel

This afternoon (22 April 1999) at 14:20 hours the IDF Humanitarian Assistance Mission for Albanian refugees from Kosovo, returned home. The mission was welcomed in a modest ceremony at an Israel Air Force base in central Israel. Present at the ceremony were the Minister of Health, the IDF Surgeon General, other senior IDF officers and family members.

22 April 1999. Stenkovech, Macedonia. IDF Humanitarian Assistance Mission Returns Today – 1,600 Refugees Treated

Following a Government decision to grant medical and humanitarian assistance to Albanian refugees from Kosovo, the IDF dispatched a Humanitarian Assistance Mission under Medical Corps Command to Stenkovech, Macedonia (12 Km north of Skopje). The mission departed on 6 April 1999, and upon arrival set up a field hospital. According to the Government decision, the mission was to deploy for a two-week period.
The IDF Humanitarian Assistance Mission was comprised of 74 servicemen and women. It included 12 physicians (surgeons, orthopedic surgeons pediatricians, gynecologists, an anesthesiologist, specialists in internal medicine and infectious diseases) X-ray and laboratory technicians, medics, and nurses. Two Albanian-speaking Israeli doctors were specially drafted for this mission. Some of the Medical personnel were veterans of previous IDF Humanitarian Missions abroad (such as to Armenia, Rwanda and Kenya). The IDF Field Hospital, the only one of its kind, at the time of its arrival, contained an emergency ward, operating room, obstetrics-gynecology ward, laboratory and pharmacy. During its two-week Mission, the IDF Field hospital treated over 1,600 patients, performed three operations and delivered 12 babies. Most of the patients who arrived at the Hospital for medical treatment suffered from infections in the upper respiratory system, and mild infections in the digestive system.
On 12 April, the Field Hospital performed its first surgical operation.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit helped doctors of the mission diagnose a cancerous growth in a young refugee patient, via telemedicine. A digital photograph of the growth, made by an IDF Spokesperson photographer at the scene was sent to the IDF Spokesperson’s Internet Unit computer in Tel Aviv, and was then e-mailed to a Hadassah Hospital specialist, who was able to offer a diagnosis.
On 13 April (Holocaust Memorial Day), the IDF Humanitarian Assistance mission held a ceremony to commemorate the Holocaust Memorial Day in the IDF Field Hospital in the Stenkovech Refugee Camp. “How symbolic it is to raise here and now the memory of our Jewish brethren who were destroyed on European soil simply for having been Jewish… The blood of our brothers cries out “Never Again”, said IDF Humanitarian Mission Commander, COL. Dr. Hezi Levi in his address.
On Memorial Day (20 April) members of the mission held a ceremony in which the Order of the Day issued by the IDF Chief of Staff, was read. In his address the commander of the IDF mission said, ” We stand as proud representatives of a nation that though itself is only 51 years old, has sent us abroad to help alleviate the suffering of another people.”
The IDF Field Hospital cooperated with the German Red Cross Hospital and many of the patients were transferred on 14 April to the German Hospital.
In recent days, international assistance has increased and international relief organizations are playing a larger role in offering assistance.
The Non-Governmental Organizations are currently taking responsibility for the medical assistance to the refugees.
On 20 April at 14:00 hours, the IDF field Hospital was closed. Patients still under treatment were transferred to the German Red Cross Hospital.
Israel provided the necessary assistance in a time of need, and has completed, with great success, its two-week mission.

19 April, 1999, Stenkovech, IDF Humanitarian Assistance Mission to Close Field Hospital 20 April, as International Relief Agencies Take Over. 1,500 Patients have been Treated at the Hospital

The IDF Humanitarian Assistance Mission, sent to Macedonia on 4 April, will close the Israeli Field Hospital tomorrow (20 April) at 14:00 hrs. The Mission will fly back to Israel on Thursday morning (22 April).
During its deployment, the IDF Field Hospital has treated approximately 1,500 patients. The IDF physicians performed two appendectomies and one D&C. Twelve babies have been delivered by the Israeli doctors.
Tomorrow, with the closing of the hospital, the patients currently being treated will be transferred to the German Red Cross Hospital in the area. The Non-Governmental Organizations are currently taking full responsibility for the refugees and will be taking over the rescue mission themselves. Israel has provided the necessary assistance in a time of need, and has completed, with great success, its two-week mission which the Government of Israel assigned it.

14 April, 1999, Stenkovech, Over 1,000 Patients Treated at IDF Field Hospital

Yesterday (13 April) at 10:00 HRS, the one thousandth Albanian refugee patient was treated at the IDF Field Hospital in the Stenkovech, Macedonia Refugee Camp. Nine babies have been delivered by hospital staff. The Field Hospital is functioning at capacity and contains an emergency ward, an operating room, gynecology and obstetrics and orthopedic wards as well as X-ray facilities and a laboratory and pharmacy.

The IDF Field Hospital is cooperating with the German Hospital and some patients have been transferred to the German Hospital to relieve the congestion at the Field Hospital.

The Hospital staff has been commended by the NATO Supreme Allied Force Commander, Gen. Wesley Clark who visited the facility yesterday after the Holocaust memorial ceremony.

13 April, 1999, Stenkovech, Macedonia, IDF Humanitarian Assistance Mission Conducts Holocaust Memorial Day Ceremony in the IDF Field Hospital in Macedonia

Today the IDF Humanitarian mission held a ceremony to commemorate the Holocaust Memorial Day in the IDF Field Hospital in the Stenkovech Refugee Camp.
The ceremony was attended by the American Ambassador for Refugee Affairs to OPCE, William Walker, the Commander of the US Forces, the Israeli Ambassador to Greece, the Macedonian Deputy Foreign Minister, and the Head of the Jewish community. The NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Gen. Wesley Clark, and VADM James O. Ellis, Jr., Commander of US Naval Forces in Europe who is also Commander in Chief of Allied Forces in Southern Europe visited the Field Hospital after the ceremony. IDF Mission Commander, COL Dr. Hezi Levi said in his address: “How symbolic it is to raise here and now the memory of our Jewish brethren who were destroyed on European soil simply for having been Jewish… The blood of our brothers cries out “Never Again!
Our feet are standing now in a camp holding thousands of refugees who have been uprooted from their homes simply because of their ethnic belonging.” He further stated that the IDF knows how to offer an outstretched arm and to provide humanitarian aid to people of all nationalities.

Stenkovech, Macedonia, 12 April 1999. IDF Field Hospital in Macedonia Performs First Surgery – IDF Spokesperson’s Unit Helps Doctor Diagnose Malady Via Computer

The IDF Field Hospital continues to treat hundreds of Albanian refugees each day. Yesterday, the Field Hospital performed its first surgical operation – an appendectomy. The operation, performed by Maj. Dr. Ron Meir.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit helped LTC Prof. Yoel Donchin diagnose a growth in a young refugee patient via telemedicine. A digital photograph of the growth, made by an IDF Spokesperson photographer was sent to the IDF Spokesperson’s Internet Unit computer in Tel Aviv, and was then e-mailed to Hadassah Hospital specialist, Prof. Motti Sela who was able to offer a diagnosis.

Refugees have expressed their gratitude for the care they have received and the Commander of NATO forces in the sector said that the hospital is the most impressive compound and thanked the Israeli doctors and medical team personally for the excellent assistance they are providing to the Albanian refugees from Kosovo.

Stenkovech, Macedonia, 11 April 1999. IDF Humanitarian Assistance Mission has so far Treated Over 500 Refugees

The IDF humanitarian assistance mission has so far treated over 500 refugees at the field hospital set up here by the Medical Corps. Six babies have been delivered by the Medical team (five girls and a boy).
On Friday (9.4.99) an IAF plane brot re-supplies for the field hospital, medicines and in particular insulin.

On Friday IDF soldiers inaugurated an improvised synagogue in a tent in the hospital compound and held Sabbath service there.

The hospital is organized like a military base for all practical purposes. There is an emergency ward, pediatric and gynecology wards, X-ray, laboratory, pharmacy and an operation room. There is team work between medical, electronics, logistics and paramedic teams. The hospital was built in a refugee camp holding an estimated 25,000 refugees.

Doctors communicate with the help on two Albanian born Israeli doctors and with the help of an Albanian- Hebrew glossary which they composed and suspended in the hospital tents.

Stenkovech, Macedonia, 9 April 1999

An up-date on the IDF Humanitarian Assistance Mission for Albania Refugees: Field Hospital. The IDF field hospital at the refugee camp in Macedonia is working around-the-clock and has treated dozens of people so far. As of today, four women have given birth at the hospital. Most of the refugees are suffering from diseases caused due to the cramped conditions. An additional plane carrying 18 tons of supplementary equipment is scheduled to arrive in Macedonia to allow for the hospital staff to care for a wider range of illnesses. Amongst the equipment carried by the medical team are additional units of insulin, which was dispatched after it was discovered that many of the refugees seeking treatment were diabetics.

Stenkovech, Macedonia, 8 April 1999

Approximately 55 patients were treated yesterday in the field hospital which the Israel Defense Forces set up in tents at Stenkovech, Macrdonia, within less than 24 hours. Members of the IDF mission built a labor room, emergency ward and operating rooms. The NATO force commander visited the Israeli field hospital last night. “A large number of patients have begun to arrive, and the doctors are treating the ever-growing flow of patients. Communication is carried out with the aid of translators, doctors who know Albanian, and in English. So far, the communication has been good,” said COL Dr. Hezi Levi, Commander of the IDF Medical Mission. On the second day in which the IDF field hospital has been operating, there is no evidence ofan epidemic. The diseases encountered by the medical team are well-known diseases which attack children and adults. However the refugees are living in crowded conditions and are exposed to cold; therefore epidemics could develop if humanitarian assistance is not supplied. The IDF mission is equipped with a sufficient supply of medicine and is in constant touch with the Medical Corps and the General Staff Technology and Logistics Branch in, Israel in order to obtain further supplies. The present mission is intended to be for two weeks. However, according to developments, Israel Government and Military officials may decide to extend the mission.

Stenkovech, Macedonia, 7 April 1999

Today, at 1600 Hrs,The IDF medical mission began to treat refugees in the Stenkovech camp, 12 Kms north of Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. The mission erected the only field hospital in the area. The hospital is divided into an emergency ward, a labor room, and an operating room. Two of the doctors from the mission immigrated eight years ago from Albania to Israel. Up to now, the hospital has treated between some 60 patients, 35 of whom being adults and 22 children. Most of the patients suffered from infections in the upper respiratory system, mild infections in the digestive system, etc. According to the IDF doctors, the refugees in this camp are in relatively good condition. The situation is much worse in the camps closer to the border. Thus refugees from those camps began to arrive after they heard that the Israel Defense Forces had set up a hospital. With the sanitary conditions prevailing in the area, it is only a matter of time before diseases will spread, and Israeli doctors predict that in the next few days there will be more cases requiring treatment. An additional Israeli plane is expected to arrive during the weekend, carrying more medical supplies. Prof. Yoel Donchin, a physician belonging to the mission, said that before the the hospital was fully set up, a woman who had just given birth arrived at the hospital. She suffered from post-natal internal complications. She received immediate medical treatment and is now out of danger. The NATO spokesperson said that he welcomes the Israeli hospital, which is the first of its kind, in the area. He added that the fact that Israel is not a member of NATO and is participating in this humanitarian mission, poses no problem whatsoever.

Stenkovech, Macedonia, 6 April 1999

An IDF humanitarian assistance mission has departed for the Macedonia-Kosovo border in an effort to assist the refugees who continue to escape from the war zone. The mission, comprised of 70 servicemen and women, including surgeons, pediatricians, gynecologists, internal doctors, X-ray technicians, medics, nurses, and two Albanian-speaking Israeli doctors, set up a field hospital in Stenkovich, Macedonia. IDF Surgeon General, Brig. Gen. Arie Eldad, stated, “The fear of the unknown always exists. We are not familiar with the area, we don’t know the people or the surroundings, all the participants of the mission are very emotionally moved.” Before the departure of the mission, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu arrived at the Israel Air Force base from, where the mission took off, and greeted the mission members saying, “I know from past experience that when the IDF arrives, it sets the tone and serves as an example of excellence for the rest. I have no doubt that you will do the same.” The purpose of the mission according to mission commander COL Dr. Hezi Levi, is to build an emergency room capable of attending to sick refugees, triage them, decide who needs to be hospitalized, amd hospitalize those who require hospital care. The mission will have to deal with gun-shot wounds, infectious diseases, exhausted elderly patients and pregnant women. The IDF Medical Corps field hospital is capable of attending to several hundred patients a day, and contains 100 beds. It is the largest, and for all practical purposes, the only hospital of its kind in the area, capable of treating the refugees in the camps and those arriving from the border. The hospital has become a center to which patients are being referred. The Israeli doctors have brought with them equipment to treat infectious diseases, and are even planning to set up an operating room. It is estimated that hundreds of the tens of thousands of refugees on the border will arrive for medical treatment in the hospital. Despite the expected difficulties, participants in the mission say: “We feel a sense of mission.”

Near the refugee camps are improvised cemeteries for those refugees who were unable to endure the cold, hunger, and diseases.

Pictures of the Israel Defense Forces Humanitarian Assistance Operation for Refugees from Kosovo

Memorial Day ceremony held at IDF Field Hospital, Stenkovech, Macedonia.
IDF Mission Commander, COL Dr. Hezi Levi reads Order of Day and Address.