Is­raeli dis­as­ter re­lief team flies in to sup­port UK flood vic­tims

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY JOHN FISHER

RES­I­DENTS IN the flood-af­fected ar­eas of Heb­den Bridge, Mytholm­royd and Kirk­gate in Leeds have been helped by an Is­raeli dis­as­ter re­lief char­ity, whose team flew in on Mon­day.

Four Is­raAID vol­un­teers are work­ing to re­pair homes and dis­trib­ute blan­kets and food in the worst hit ar­eas.

Shachar Za­havi, Is­raAID found­ing di­rec­tor, said: “Our vol­un­teers are as­sist­ing with the cur­rent ef­forts and us­ing our ex­pe­ri­ence in such dis­as­ters to work out what more we can do.”

Team leader Navonel Glick said “peo­ple were shocked” when they re­alised the men were from Is­rael. “It was hard for them to process, be­cause al­though other peo­ple had trav­elled from neigh- bour­ing towns to of­fer help, when the vic­tims re­alised we had ac­tu­ally trav­elled from Is­rael they couldn’t be­lieve it. Sud­denly they started to grin from ear to ear and then the re­ac­tion was, ‘Wow! Really? From Is­rael. You truly came to help us from Is­rael?’”

The del­e­ga­tion have be­come he­roes, with peo­ple point­ing to them as they walk through the streets. Many have ap­proached them to shake hands and ex­press their grat­i­tude.

The char­ity, which usu­ally re­sponds to dis­as­ters in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, said it was not un­usual to re­spond to floods of the scale that have hit parts of the UK.

Mr Za­havi said: “We have re­sponded

to 10 floods and tor­nado dis­as­ters in the United States and when we saw what was hap­pen­ing to the UK it looked worse than ever be­fore.

“We got in touch with Jewish com­mu­ni­ties around the north of Eng­land and lo­cal coun­cils and ar­ranged to send our team to help. We also have an­other team wait­ing to be sent from Is­rael.”

Mr Glick, Is­raAID deputy di­rec­tor, said that the sit­u­a­tion was worse than they had an­tic­i­pated, es­pe­cially around Heb­den Bridge in West York­shire, where many homes were de­stroyed, and where the wa­ter line in some homes was up to the ceil­ing. It is the first time the or­gan­i­sa­tion has re­sponded to a dis­as­ter in the UK.

Leeds Lord Mayor Cllr Ju­dith Chap­man said: “This is an in­cred­i­ble ini­tia­tive. I find it heart­warm­ing to see that a del­e­ga­tion from Is­rael is pre­pared to drop ev­ery­thing in or­der to reach out to those in York­shire who have been af­fected. This hu­man­i­tar­ian act puts ev­ery­thing into per­spec­tive an­dre stores one’s faith in mankind.”

PHOTO: JOHN FISHER

Is­raAID work­ers in Leeds this week

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