Israel sends 71-man Mexico rescue team
A 71-MEMBER rescue team from the Israel Defence Forces worked through Rosh Hashanah as part of the international effort following the September 19 earthquake in central Mexico.
The delegation left Israel last Wednesday on a military C-130 Hercules transport, hours before the Jewish New Year began, and was composed mostly of soldiers and reserve officers from the IDF’s Home Front Command.
At the request of the Mexican authorities, who stressed the urgent need to inspect the safety of buildings damaged in the quake, a large proportion of the team were construction engineers.
Local reports said as many as 360 buildings in Mexico City were at risk of collapse or with major damage after the magnitude 7.1 earthquake, which killed at least 333 people across the country.
Nervous residents were still contacting police at the beginning of this week about new cracks that were appearing in their apartment buildings, a week after the tremor struck.
Education secretary Aurelio Nuno said only a tenth of Mexico City’s 9,000 schools were cleared to reopen on Tuesday and that it could be three weeks before all are declared safe.
The Israeli delegation was named “Operation Voice of the Shofar heard from Afar” by the IDF.
It had a special rabbinical dispensation to work throughout the holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat due to the necessity of saving lives.
Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray Caso hosted a special reception on Monday for foreign rescue teams who had arrived in the country.
He singled out the Israeli delegation led by Colonel David Mizrahi, which had travelled the furthest distance, and thanked them especially for working though the New Year.
In addition to the IDF team, two civilian Israeli teams were also involved in the search and rescue efforts in Mexico City. Mr Caso also phoned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to thank him personally.
Israeli rescue workers inspecting a Mexico City building on Saturday