IDF delegation to Haiti (archive)
IDF delegation to Haiti (archive) IDF Spokesperson's Unit

A 148-member Israeli delegation is set to leave for the Philippines on Wednesday, in order to provide search, rescue, and medical services in the Typhoon-struck city of Tacloban, capital of the Leyte Province.

The IDF said on its official blog on Tuesday that an advanced multi-department medical facility, equipped with approximately 100 tons of humanitarian and medical supplies from Israel, will be rapidly established in the city of Tacloban to provide medical care for disaster casualties.

The facility will be constructed of a children's department, a women's department, an ambulatory care department, and a general admission department, operated by IDF doctors, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, mental health professionals, x-ray technician, and lab workers, according to the IDF.

The delegation comprises of officials in the National Search and Rescue Unit of the Home Front Command headed by the unit commander, Colonel Ramtin Sabti, as well as senior doctors in the IDF Medical Corps, headed by the Vice Surgeon General of the IDF Medical Corps, Colonel Doctor Dudu Dagan.

On Monday, a lead expedition of five search, rescue, and medical experts arrived in Tacloban and formed a situation assessment determining the urgency for a rapid IDF response.

Based on this assessment, said the IDF Chief of the General Staff Benny Gantz ordered the deployment of a large-scale delegation to the disaster zone.

"The Home Front Command has soldiers and officers who excel in the fields of search and rescue and highly professional medical doctors experienced in such complex missions,” said IDF Spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.

“Over the years they have been to Japan, Haiti, Ghana, Bulgaria, and Turkey, where they diligently donated from their resources and knowledge to those in need," he added.

The IDF National Search and Rescue Unit, founded in 1983, is a highly skilled force trained to execute special search and rescue missions, both in Israel and abroad. The unit consists primarily of reservists who are always on call, with prepared kits to enable immediate departure, and a small core of soldiers in mandatory service. In addition to the rescue teams, the unit employs doctors, engineers, mechanical engineering equipment operators and rescue dog handlers.

Israel has frequently offered aid in the wake of disasters overseas, including the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010 and an earthquake in Turkey in 2011.

President Shimon Peres on Tuesday sent a letter to Philippines President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.

“Our hearts go out to the families who have lost their loved ones in this terrible natural disaster, and our prayers are with you and your people in this time of mourning and hardship,” wrote Peres.

“We are following with much concern the horrifying effects of the storm and hope that the aid provided by the State of Israel will help ease the suffering of the people of the Philippines,” he added.

As of Tuesday, despite an outpouring of international aid, many victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines were still waiting for help.

Damaged roads and downed communications mean that while food, water and medicine have been delivered to affected cities, the much-needed supplies have not been distributed to those at risk.

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