The new center in Israel's north
The new center in Israel's north Israel Dog Unit Public Relations

The nonprofit organization Am Yisrael Chai foundation on Tuesday inaugurated a new center for locating missing persons in the Meron region, in cooperation with the Israel Dog Unit (IDU), a nonprofit specializing in search and rescue. The center houses all the necessary equipment for a full-scale search and rescue effort.

The ceremony, which was held in the Upper Galilee, was attended by IDU volunteers, Shmuel Sackett, chairman of the Am Yisrael Chai Foundation, the command staff of the Israel Police’s Tzfat precinct, the Regional Council's Chief of Staff from the Upper Galilee, Nature and Parks Authority personnel and other public figures.

Also in attendance were the families of Avraham Moshe Kleinerman and Moshe Ilovich - two missing people last seen in the Meron region. Aharon Ilovich, son of the missing Moshe Ilovich, was honored with affixing one of the mezuzot, small scrolls traditionally affixed to the door of a building to signify its completion. Haim Henfling, the uncle of the missing Avraham Moshe Kleinerman, was honored with affixing another.

Affixing the mezuzot at the new center.

IDU director Yekutiel Ben-Yaakov commented: "The opening of the Center for Locating Missing Persons is good news, which will significantly contribute to the missing persons and their families. The ability to jump straight to the event, with professional teams and equipment, will reduce the response time. There is nothing more essential than to quickly reach the scene of the missing person, where the missing person was last seen - a critical amount of time, which may be the difference between life and death. This initiative comes in the wake of several serious missing person incidents that have occurred in recent years in the Meron region. It took a considerable amount of time until we were able to move the required supplies to the scene from the unit's base in Kfar Tapuah in Samaria. We have no words to thank Shmuel Sackett, Chairman of the Am Yisrael Fund Chai, who sponsored this blessed initiative, which will lead to the saving of human lives, and thanks to God, for bringing about this day."

The new center’s capacity as a command and control center was immediately tested by an incident which occurred simultaneously in Kiryat Arba. An IDU team was deployed to Kiryat Ata to find a missing person in danger. The incident was managed from the new center and ended with the missing person being located by IDU volunteers in a heavily wooded area near the outskirts of the city. The missing person was reunited with his family and taken to hospital care.

The IDU team which rescued a man from a forest near Kiryat Ata this afternoon.

Avishai Kaplan and Yochai Yeruham, the volunteers who found the missing person, recount: “We started the search at 1:50 p.m. One volunteer was already in the field, and we were asked him to join him. Instead of walking on the main path on the way to his location, we walked on the other side of the field to cover more ground, passing through the trees as we did. At 2:20 p.m. we saw the missing person lying on the ground. When he saw us he started walking away, so we followed him and tried to talk to him. He confirmed that he was the one we were looking for, but wouldn’t stop. We met the other volunteer soon, and we followed him until he stopped and sat down. A paramedic arrived at approximately 4:00 p.m. to pick him up.”