IDF Humanitarian Missions
Over the years, Israel has provided the most aid it could to countries requiring assistance. The IDF has often been at the center of these humanitarian operations and has made an important contribution towards saving lives in foreign countries.
Rescue of Wounded in Mexican Earthquake (September 1985)
On September 19th and 20th, 1985, two fierce earthquakes shook Mexico’s capital, Mexico City. The earthquakes left in their wake thousands of homes demolished, in which thousands of people lay trapped. In the wake of this disaster, it was decided that an IDF relief mission would be sent to Mexico City, along with tons of humanitarian equipment – medicines and tents, rescue equipment, professional rescue teams from the IDF’s Rescue Unit and medical teams.
Aid to Armenia (7 December 1988)
On December 7, 1988, a powerful earthquake hit Armenia and destroyed many towns across the entire country, leaving tens of thousands dead and injured, and many homeless. Around the world humanitarian aid missions were assembled, and they assisted the government of the USSR not only in rescuing and evacuating the injured, but also in distributing basic supplies.
Israel too sent an aid mission, which included a rescue unit comprised of rescuers, doctors and much needed supplies for the refugees.
Assistance to Romania (27 December 1989)
In the wake of the revolution in Romania, Israel dispatched to Bucharest a medical mission consisting of a team of surgeons. In addition, eight tons of food and medical equipment was sent in an IAF Hercules.
Assistance to Georgian Earthquake Victims (7 May 1991)
The IAF transported supplies to help earthquake victims in Georgia.
Assistance to Bosnia (18 August 1992)
In the wake of the civil war in Yugoslavia, Israel assisted victims by sending food and medicines. On 18 August 1992, an IAF plane carried 13 tons of emergency supplies to Zagreb.
Assistance in Evacuation Following the Bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos-Aires (17 March 1992)
On March 17, 1992 a powerful bomb blast rocked the Israeli embassy building in Buenos Aires. The blast caused the collapse of the four-story building. Twenty-nine people were killed in the explosion and 250 were injured, many of them buried alive. Israel dispatched a Homefront Command rescue team and doctors, who were assisted by tracking dogs. The mission helped to extricate and thereby save the lives of many people buried under the collapsed building.
Humanitarian Aid to Refugees of the Rwandan Civil War (June – August 1994)
Bloody civil war broke out in Rwanda in 1994 between the Hutu and the Tutsi tribes. The fighting cost one million people their lives. As a result of the war, millions of refugees were concentrated in refugee camps in neighboring countries. On June 23 the IDF flew a medical team comprised of doctors, medical staff, medical supplies, food and clothing to assist the refugees concentrated in proximity to the city of Goma in Zaire. To ensure the security of the medical team, a unit of Givati Brigade soldiers was also sent. Some 270 IDF soldiers and officers spent 40 days in the field hospital at the refugee camp, and provided medical and humanitarian aid.
Assistance in Putting Out A Huge Fire in Turkey (4-6 July 1997)
On July 4, 1997 a huge fire broke out in a number of Turkish arms factories. The Turkish government turned to the Israel Air Force and asked for assistance in putting it out. The IAF sent assistance in the form of fire-fighting helicopters and sophisticated equipment. With the Israeli aid, Turkish efforts to put out the fire, which was threatening to engulf the adjacent city, were successful. The IAF received much praise for the successful aid.
IDF Rescue Mission in Kenya following US Embassy Blast (7 August 1998)
On the morning of 7 August 1998, powerful blasts rocked the US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es-Salaam, Tanzania. In Nairobi, the blast took a toll of over 100 dead and thousands of wounded. When the extent of the tragedy in Nairobi became known, IDF Chief-of-Staff, Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz ordered the IDF to dispatch Israel Air Force planes with an IDF rescue mission to the Kenyan capital. The rescue mission included the experienced Homefront Command Search and Rescue Unit (equipped with sophisticated materiel and a canine unit), and Medical Corps teams comprised of physicians and medics specializing in traumatology, medical equipment and blood. The mission was headed by the Homefront Command Chief-of-Staff. Immediately upon their arrival in Nairobi on 8 August, the IDF mission began to undertake a SAR operation in coordination with the Kenyan and US forces operating at the site of the explosion. The Israeli team immediately located a number of trapped survivors and began operations to extricate them.
IDF Medical Mission to Assist Refugees from Kosovo in Macedonia (6 April 1999)
Early Tuesday Morning (6 April), the Israel Defense Forces dispatched a field hospital, under IDF Medical Corps Command , to assist Albanian refugees from Kosovo.
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 Dr. Hezi Levi, Deputy Surgeon General of the IDF.
The mission landed in Skopje Macedonia and set up the 100-bed field hospital near the border with Kosovo.
The mission is comprised of seventy 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 include a medical laboratory, pharmacy and operating room.