Urgent: Help Israel Aid the Philippines

November 15, 2013
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Staggering figures continue to mount as rescue workers dig through the rubble in the Philippines following the devastating typhoon that ravaged the islands recently. Teams from around the world have rushed to the scene to bring aid of every kind, but first on the scene was Israel. God’s chosen nation has repeatedly proved its commitment to using its resources, skills and ingenuity to assist countries in crisis, from India to Africa, Haiti to Japan…and now to the beleaguered Philippines.

Facing horrific conditions, the Israeli delegation of 150 set up shop in one of the hardest hit areas on the island of Cebu. People there are facing destruction and devastation that is hard to comprehend while enduring insufferable heat and humidity. Nearly every building has been damaged or destroyed, thousands are dead and millions homeless. Upon their arrival, the IDF delegation repaired a damaged and abandoned hospital, and set about the daunting task of caring for the thousands suffering from dehydration, diarrhea, fever, respiratory problems and storm-related injuries. Within an hour, they had delivered a tiny baby boy and restored the sight of a 70-year-old man whose eye had been injured by a flying nail during the storm.

Photo credit: Israel Defense Forces / DOTZ / Shay Wagner

Many have wondered at Israel’s motivation to respond to humanitarian crises with such dedication and passion. After all, they are a tiny nation with no shortage of their own problems. Constantly facing terrorism, the threat of war, international pressures and the relentless onslaught of anti-Israel propaganda, one could understand if they were more occupied with internal issues and less concerned about the suffering of others. But that’s not what “makes Israel tick.”

God has clearly mandated that Israel will be a light to the nations. Genesis 12:3 says, “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” And in actions such as those described above, we see this verse come to life. Israel also takes God’s instruction in Deuteronomy 15:7 very seriously: “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother.” Helping the widow and the orphan is foundational in Judaism. As a nation, Israel takes this mandate beyond her own borders, helping the needy and devastated wherever they are found.

Photo credit: Israel Defense Forces

Finally, Israel is committed to the concept of tikun olam, or perfecting the world. Judaism has long taught that it is the responsibility of every Jewish person to make the world a better place in whatever way he can. Whether religious or not, every Jewish person is aware of their responsibility to make sure that the world they leave behind at death is in some way better than the one that greeted them at birth. As a nation, Israel does this in a myriad of ways, one of which is to extend a hand of immediate assistance when disaster strikes.

Over the past days, 2,686 patients, out of whom 848 were children, have been treated in the field hospital in Bogo City by IDF doctors. Other than casualties and injuries suffered from the typhoon, medical treatment was provided to those who needed it, such as people suffering from chronic illnesses and other medical conditions.

Col. Dr. David Dagan, commander of the IDF field hospital: “The experts we brought are on the forefront of their fields in Israel. The doctors, nurses, and medical staff [who came] here left their homes, families, and jobs, immediately upon hearing there was a need…motivated by compassion and guided by the values of human dignity and friendship.”

Sixty surgeries were performed, including cancerous tumor removals and eye surgeries. Most of the surgeries performed were emergency, life-saving surgeries that required urgent medical attention. In addition, the IDF gynecological team was involved in approximately 36 births. In addition, schools were rebuilt to help children resume some degree of normalcy in their devastated lives.

Photo credit: Israel Defense Forces

The IDF hopes to send some of their team back to Israel in time for Hanukkah which begins on November 27. But some of the team and equipment will remain behind to help the people of the Philippines on their long road back to life.

Bridges for Peace has been privileged to assist in these humanitarian outreaches in the past and is committed to standing with Israel in this effort as well. Won’t you please consider a gift to help us help Israel be a light to the nations…and a blessing to the battered and weary of the Philippines.