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Prime Minister: "The entire world is full of appreciation for your work"

28 January 2010 ,12:27

Praise given to the IDF aid delegation to Haiti as they were received by the Prime Minister, the Chief of the General Staff and the Minister of Defense.

Members of the IDF Delegation to Haiti arrived Thursday morning (Jan. 28) to Ben Gurion International Airport with an official military ceremony, in the presence of senior officials of both the IDF and the government, including Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, Commander of the Home Front Command Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, Commander of the Air Force Maj. Gen. Ido Nachushtan and the Head Medical Officer Brig. Gen. Nachman Esh.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said that “approximately 40 hours after the earthquake in Haiti, about 36 hours after my instructions to send the delegation, the IDF forces were already on their way to Haiti. In less than 24 hours, people were on the ground. The plan was to build a field hospital within 30 hours, but in reality the mission was accomplished in half of the time.”

“You showed the world the true spirit of the IDF”

Prime Minister Netanyahu also added that,“The Chief of the General Staff updated me and told me that everyone expressed amazement at the speed of the work of the IDF in the field. We, who are familiar with the IDF, in how it operates in changing situations throughout the years, and especially in missions that seem impossible- we were not surprised. It is possible to plan for things at a basic level, but the biggest test of our strength, as a nation and as a military, is the ability to be ready and to rescue people quickly, by making quick decisions.” Prime Minister Netanyahu added that, “You have proven the capability and the proficiency, but you did much more than that. You raised peoples’ spirits; you raised the name of the State of Israel and the name of the IDF. Precisely during these days, during which there are those who conspire against us and distort and degrade the name of the IDF and the name of the State of Israel, you showed the world the true spirit of the IDF.”

“What characterizes the IDF in my opinion? Yesterday I returned from another place, a place where a terrible catastrophe occurred, and it was not a natural disaster but instead a disaster of human nature, with the most terrible brutality against our nation and against humanity in history.” Referring to his visit in Poland, from where he returned Thursday morning,  Netanyahu added, “In this place, there was no one to arrive in time in order to save our people. Today we have the Israel Defense Force, which operates first and foremost in order to defend our people, but also to rescue people from distress all over the world- and only yesterday you were on the other side of the world.”

The Prime Minister concluded by saying that, “The entire world is full of appreciation for your work. I request to salute you in the name of the State of Israel and in the name of decent, honest and unswerving mankind. Well done, IDF.”

“You have merited praise from all over the world”

Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, returned today from a two day visit with the Commander of NATO in Brazil. Upon receiving the delegation, the Chief of the General Staff said that, “the shocking earthquake which took place near the capital of Haiti left behind unprecedented destruction: hundreds of thousands of people were killed and more than a million people lost their homes. An entire country was hit by shock and destruction which immediately struck all who passed there. Between the pain and fear for the future, and the excitement over lives saved – the amazing group of Home Front Command and Israeli Medical Corps personnel were there.”

“You have merited praise from all over the world and have turned into a source of pride for every Jew and every Israeli. The coping capability of the Home Front Command and the Medical Corps were already known in the past, among other incidents in the terrorist attack in Kenya and the earthquakes in Greece and Turkey. It can be said that in this mission, your capability in saving lives crossed new borders.” The Chief of the General Staff added that, “I was a witness to you speedy mobilization, to your treatment of injured people, to your struggle for every living soul, for everyone that still had a chance to be saved.”

“Our values guide us to cross continents in order to save lives”

While speaking about the spirit of the IDF that was expressed through the work of the delegation, the Chief of the General Staff said: “This spirit stands alone as one which inspires soldiers of the IDF and the values permeated in it. This is the most precise phrase explaining the feeling of representation and delegation which characterizes the IDF. Lately there have been those who complain about the IDF and have chosen to muddy its face and complain against its morals and ethics. In your work you have proven the opposite to be true – our values guide us to cross continents in order to save lives. That is what guides us today and will continue to guide us in the future.”

In his meetings with commanders of western militaries, within the framework of the annual NATO conference,The Chief of the General Staff said that the work of the IDF delegation received special notice. “Every personal conversation, and even formal speeches for the entire conference, opened will much praise for your work. As commander of this army, I was excited to represent you. We are proud of you and salute you,” he said.

Minister of Defense Ehud Barak said that the entire world was watching the work of the delegation. “It was heartwarming to see you doing not only your professional duties, but being present in a world where Israel merits so much criticism for its behavior and standpoints – with your work in Haiti you succeeded in showing the true spirit of the IDF, the true spirit of the State of Israel, and the long tradition of Jewish involvement… You strengthen the IDF, the land of Israel, and all of us.”

“This was no simple achievement”

The head of the Israeli delegation, Brig. Gen. Shalom Ben Arie, described the difficulties and challenges facing the IDF delegation to Haiti. “This was no simple achievement, because this was not an organic unit or a body trained for this mission. That being said, within 48 hours, we established an organized unit. The conditions in Haiti did not make the work any easier.”

He added “The delegation did not resemble any other delegation I saw, as two main factors jeopardized its success. First, we arrived to a country where all governing institutions were physically destroyed and therefore there was no one to receive us or to direct our aid efforts. We had to work blindly. Second, since 1994 Haiti has not had a military and there is a lot to think when stationing a military with such a large presence. Depsite this, we worked cooperatively with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense, and we accomplished our mission in the best possible way.”

The head of the delegation added that “The field hospital, commanded by Col. Dr. Itzik Kries, treated 1,111 people, and performed over 300 life-saving surgeries. Each of this people would have died, were it not for this treatment. We are speaking of true life saving. The delegation worked out of the desire to stick to the mission and the determination to succeed, out of a sense of representing the country, out of friendship and the knowledge of the heavy weight responsibility on all of our shoulders. It is as if the success of the delegation hung on each person.”




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