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July 27, 2016 / 21 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘emergency’

Plots, Schemes And Coalitions

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Last month we saw something historic in Israeli politics – the largest unity government ever formed. Unlike most unity governments, this one was born neither from a sense of national emergency nor from an era of national euphoria, where political differences fade. Instead, this coalition was induced by the threat of the ballot box and is a result of Israeli politicians’ strategic dedication to either keeping their seats or scoring the slot above them in the next coalition jig.

For many observers, the “surprise” that greeted Israelis on May 8 was yet another political dance where the citizen stands on the sidelines, half-bewildered, half-relieved, but ultimately a spectator meant to watch, wonder, and wait for another year and half to be heard from again.

When it comes to Israel’s representative governance, is the tail wagging the dog? Put another way, is Israel’s citizenry merely an accessory to the political decision-making of the day?

There is no debating the many benefits that may derive from a unity government for Israel. With a nuclear Iran fast approaching, Syria imploding, Turkey menacing, and Hizbullah-Hamas gaining strength rapidly, stability is a good thing, which explains why most Israelis don’t want early elections. Indeed, there are other benefits that could derive from a Likud-Kadima union, such as the ability to fast-track emergency legislation like the Tal Law, budgetary issues, and critical electoral reforms. But as in all things, there is a subtext to this story that cannot be expediently swept under the rug. In this case, it has become clear that the unity government’s main ambition is consolidating its own power, as Israelis are once again forced to endure ad hoc-style governance in which day-to-day politicking is more about the maintenance of power then exercising it.

Sadly, the numerous scandals and convictions of former prime ministers, presidents and MKs are constant reminders of unscrupulous public servants blatantly neglecting their national duties. This is not to say there are not good, well-intentioned men and women in the Knesset who seek to improve the lives of Israelis. There are many. But the overall climate inside Israel’s governing class is one that applauds – even pursues – stability at the cost of clarity in policy.

Israelis are an audaciously capable people in times of crises. The concern is that political stability could lead to policy inertia, which leads to a fatal sense of apathy.

To most honest observers, the Netanyahu/Mofaz marriage is one of convenience, a mutual desire for power consolidation and political momentum. And how can we blame either of them for mimicking the political strategies of the day? Netanyahu has managed to successfully navigate – even dominate – a political system, while Mofaz – newly installed as Kadima’s head – effectively read the writing on the wall regarding Kadima’s chances in an early election. What is indisputable is the complete lack of effort by either leader to court the general public in the formation of this unprecedented coalition.

This disinterest in the grassroots constituency has become standard. Take, for example, the Netanyahu government’s response to the hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens who took to the streets last summer to protest Israel’s centralization of wealth and power. The Israeli grassroots finally made their voice heard, but lacked the clarity of purpose and the sacred national symbols to unite and speak truth to power. We should have seen a more serious response than the appointment of the Trachtenberg commission.

Since then, Israelis citizen have been led – by delays and other obfuscations – back into the grip of societal apathy, where they congratulate the government for forming a coalition but fail to hold it accountable for demands which swept the nation less than 10 months ago. And so, demands from a broad consensus of Israel’s population have so far yielded only minor legislative changes and a unity government that can more easily diffuse accountability for inaction.

In looking at the current coalition, we must ask ourselves: Does Israel get the leaders it deserves? For an ancient people founded on the republican principles of individualism, community, and ethical responsibility, leadership from the Jewish perspective has always flowed upward, from the people. While the people are supposed to be the power behind the throne, Israel’s democracy has become filled with willing subjects. In the end, the blame lies with a public that has abdicated its duty – to be comprised of active citizens and advocates for a better nation that doggedly participate in their community and politic. Until such an innervated citizenry arises, Israel will continue to produce the leaders that reflect their own abdication and take advantage of the power vacuum, governing ad hoc on the basis of petty politics.

Ariel Harkham

Chevra Kadisha Forum Says Ministry’s Plans for Mass Burials ‘Problematic’

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Israel’s Chevra Kadisha (Burial Society) has rejected the government’s plan for mass burials in the event of a mass casualty incident, and submitted an alternative plan to Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai on Sunday.

The Chevra Kadisha Forum, in a letter to Vilnai, challenged the Interior Ministry’s 2011 plan, which mandates temporary burial in coffins at temporary cemeteries as well as the option of transferring bodies to cooling facilities until they can be identified and final resting places can be arranged. According to the Interior Ministry’s plan, such transfers would not take place during the national emergency itself.

According to the Forum, which is headed by Wolf Rosenberg and brings together the 12 major chevrot kadisha in Israel, the Interior Ministry’s plans are “problematic from a halachic and humane perspective.”

The Forum wrote that it would be able to provide a proper and permanent burial even during a national emergency, through advanced and standardized planning. Crucial to its plan is the provision of a permanent reserve of 10,000 vacant burial plots designated specifically for national emergencies.  “All work would be performed by chevrot kadisha. Allotment of these reserves would occur on the national level, from the north to the south, and the land used will be from areas adjacent to or nearby existing cemeteries, so that the necessary infrastructure and facilities will be well-prepared for emergencies.” Such a plan would require “the state to unfreeze lands adjacent to cemeteries and designated for expansion, and expedite approvals for designated lands or cemeteries.”

The Forum lamented that “as it stands now, there is no chance that chevrot kadisha would be able to to perform the necessary tasks. The system would collapse within minutes. This is a nightmare scenario of which the chevrot kadisha are not ready to participate.”

The Forum added that “this solution will spare the grieving families the added pain of exhuming the dead from makeshift cemeteries to permanent ones, will spare another burial and all the accompanying trauma. Our solution preserves the dignity of the dead as well as result in significant financial savings.

Solomon Burke

IDF Soldiers Save Critically Ill Palestinian Infant

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Last Sunday night, a Palestinian woman arrived with her 12-day-old baby girl at an IDF post in the Benjamin region of Judea and Samaria. The infant was having trouble breathing and needed immediate first aid.

IDF Home Front Command soldiers stationed at the post treated the baby, stabilized her, then called an ambulance, which evacuated her to a nearby hospital in Ramallah.

“The baby was suffering from severe difficulty breathing and was vomiting at the same time,” explained the battalion doctor, Cpt. Dr. Michael Findler. “We provided her with initial medical care and succeeded in stabilizing her condition.”

Commanders from the Benjamin Regional Brigade explained that Palestinians in the region know that if they have a life-threatening emergency, they can come to the IDF post for assistance.

“Every Palestinian in the region knows there is an IDF post permanently stationed here that will provide aid,” said Cpt. Dr. Findler. “Such incidents have become commonplace.”

Over the past two weeks, the battalion stationed at the post treated three similar cases of emergency medical care. “Last time one of our paramedics treated a Palestinian girl suffering from meningitis, and in another incident I treated a jaundice patient that arrived with a severe cerebral hemorrhage,” explained the battalion doctor. “In both cases the patients were evacuated for additional medical care at Israeli hospitals.”

IDF soldiers have a long history of saving Palestinian lives. In recent months, IDF medics have treated a an elderly Palestinian suffering from pulmonary edema, an unconscious Palestinian man, an injured Gaza teenager and victims of a severe car accident.

Tibbi Singer

Healing Under Fire: How Ashkelon’s Barzilay Medical Center Coped with Four Days of Rockets

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Soft spoken and friendly, Barzilay Medical Center CEO and Medical Director Dr. Chezy Levy faces extremely unusual professional challenges, born by his facility’s unique location – only a few miles north of the Gaza strip.

“What we’ve experienced in the last four days is another wave of violence in this area,” he recalled one day after a tenuous cease fire between the Islamic Jihad and Israel had gone into effect. A lot of missiles fell here.”

Altogether, the four days of fighting in mid-March, 2012, saw some 200 rockets being launched at Israel’s southern population centers, compared with about 800 rockets over the entire three weeks of operation Cast Lead of late 2008, early 2009.

“Barzilay is the only hospital in the region, and so, in addition to our routine service in every area of medicine, like any ordinary hospital, we also have to be prepared year-round to treat civilians who were wounded by those missiles from the Gaza strip, and treat additional casualties from the military,” said Levy.

He used to be the IDF Surgeon General, and so dealing with emergencies, “unfortunately,” as he frequently puts it, is his bread and butter. “We, doctors, live in Israel with one eye looking at ordinary medical service, and the other eye always ready and alert in anticipation of emergencies. This is, unfortunately, why Israel has such expertise in operating medical facilities in emergency times.”

Barzilay Medical Center CEO and Medical Director Dr. Chezy Levy oversees operations while the rockets from Gaza are flying outside.

Barzilay Medical Center CEO and Medical Director Dr. Chezy Levy oversees operations while the rockets from Gaza are flying outside.

Early on the Sunday following the eruption of the short, but massive conflict, Dr. Levy sent word to his entire staff to forgo all leaves and come in. This was not simple, since schools had been closed as a result of the fighting, and many of his nurses are mothers to school age and smaller children. Nevertheless, he said, they all showed up, because “they are very devoted to the patients and the hospital.”

In my work as local reporter in NY City, I once covered the way Gouverneur Medical Center on the Lower East Side operated during a particularly fierce blizzard. Staff members walked many blocks across town in snow up to their knees, to get to a subway that was still operating, to make it to work. I know first hand this kind of dedication of medical staff. But this one required working under fire and leaving one’s children in someone else’s care while the shells were coming down. Beats a blizzard.

“We had to decide which patients to transfer to our better protected facilities,” Dr. Levy explained what working under fire actually took. “This hospital is quite old and there are some shielded buildings, but most aren’t. Unfortunately, we are well used to this, since we’ve been targeted by missiles, on and off, for more than ten years now. And as time passes, the Gazan missiles are becoming more and more sophisticated, and Ashkelon is now regularly within the range of the shooting.”

He said this had been the fourth time in which the shelling was so bad and ongoing, they had to transfer patients to other, better protected buildings.

“Our choice is to first move those patients who can’t help themselves,” he continued. “So we took, first of all, the premature babies and put them in the shielded area.”

He smiled softly. “You should have seen  them transporting a premature baby in the incubator, while resuscitating it on the way…”

Then they took the newborn babies. Then they moved the pediatric ward, the dialysis patients, and patients receiving ontological treatment.

The very old, geriatric patients who can’t help themselves were transferred outside the region, to facilities up north.

Ashkelon's Barzilay Medical Center meets the challenges of living next door to the Gaza strip, Grad rockets and all.

Ashkelon's Barzilay Medical Center meets the challenges of living next door to the Gaza strip, Grad rockets and all.

“We transferred about 100 patients, or 20% of the patient population, most of them to protected hospital units, some to ambulatory services,” he reported, sighing: “It took four to five hours to move all the critical equipment and to open the new, protected ward.”

Dr. Levy said he and his staff were debating whether or not to transfer the emergency room to the shielded buildings, and in the end decided against it. The alternative location is just not convenient enough for the kind of fast-pace, hectic work that goes on when an ER is taking patients from massive rocket hits.

Yori Yanover

Those Sneaky Zionists

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Dateline – Israel. 9:15 PM

This post was updated and corrected at 11:45PM from the original version following the release of additional information from the COGAT office.

A 15 year old Palestinian teenager from Gaza has been transported to Israel for emergency medical treatment in the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot.

The Arab teenager was seriously injured while preparing to launch a Palestinian Qassam rocket at Israeli civilians in Southern Israel, when the rocket suddenly malfunctioned and exploded. COGAT indicates that a second boy was killed in the attempted attack, and that the Palestinians tried to blame Israel for his death.

The explosion took place in Jabalya in Gaza.

 

Photo Illustration: Palestinians in Gaza prepare to shoot Qassam rockets at Israeli civilians in southern Israel.

Jameel@Muqata

Greece Jews to Receive an Entire $1 million in Emergency Aid from JAFI

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Shalom Life reports that the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel voted to provide emergency aid to the Jewish community of Greece, in order to address immediate needs in the wake of their country’s crippling financial crisis.

Agency Executive Natan Sharansky convened the urgent leadership meeting of the organization’s leadership, which decided to provide around $1 million over two years to help the Greek Jewish community prevail.

Earlier this month, the Jewish Press reported on salary levels at JAFI, and from that report it appears that the agency’s current emergency support for the Greek Jewish community each of the two years will be just $250,000 short of the agency’s chief fundraiser, Dr. Misha Galperin, who will be taking home $750,000 a year.

Shalom Life reports that the funds will enable communal institutions to continue operations, including programs to strengthen their ties with Israel and the development of unique aliyah tracks for those wishing to immigrate to Israel.

The aid package will be funded by the Jewish Agency and by its partners, Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal (UIA) and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

Around 7,500 Jews live in Greece, with 3,500 in Athens and an additional 1,000 in Thessaloniki. The Jewish community operates synagogues, a Jewish school, a museum, and a soup kitchen.

The Jewish Chronicle reported last week that “the main reason for the tanking incomes of Athens community members is that many rely for business on the property market, which like elsewhere in Europe, has come crashing down. Rents have tumbled along with property prices.” The JC explains that tenants demand a 30 per cent reduction in rent from their landlords, and many leave, breaking their contracts, since their businesses had gone under.

Perhaps the JAFI Board of Governors should be encouraged to spend their vacations near these two Jewish centers and trickle down some of their income, which is alleged to be among the highest in the world of Jewish fund-raising, into the pockets of the near-bankrupt Greek Jews.

JAFI officials could visit the Jewish museum in Athensn (see image) – and maybe leave a nice tip for the staff.

Yori Yanover

Saving Lives in Judea and Samaria – The Untold Story

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

A common phenomenon in Judea and Samaria is that many Palestinians turn to the IDF and to Israeli medical emergency services to receive medical attention. Local Arabs, whether ill or wounded, receive immediate life-saving medical treatment regardless of existing security tensions, and with no prerequisites.

A recent case is that of a two year old infant who was treated by Magen David Adom (MDA) medics and the Kfir battalion medical staff after being critically wounded by his father, who accidentally hit him with his car. The family brought the child to the main gate at Neve Tsuf, where he received first-responder treatment.

Two weeks later, IDF medical officials and local volunteers treated two Palestinians that were brought to Neve Tsuf after falling from a high elevation and suffering moderate injuries to their limbs and spinal columns. They were later evacuated to a hospital in Ramallah.

Neve Tsuf is one of several Jewish settlements that provide medical care to local Arabs. Israeli medical services primarily tend to Palestinians wounded in car accidents throughout Judea and Samaria, usually between Palestinian vehicles.

An agreement was signed between Palestinian Red Crescent and the MDA, ensuring the use of MDA’s advanced equipment by Red Crescent. By virtue of this agreement, Red Crescent ambulances pass through military checkpoints without inspection, and occasionally abuse this privilege to transport weapons.

Medical treatment by Israeli medical officials is provided even during periods of increased security tensions, such as Arab riots, stone throwing, and various assaults on Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, including a stone-throwing attack on an ambulance from Neve Tsuf over a month ago.

And yet, the humanitarian aid provided to Arabs in Judea and Samaria has not been picked up on or published by the media.

MK Aryeh Eldad of The National Union party, a former commanding officer of the military medical corps in the IDF, stated: “In any case when emergency medical care is required, it is to be provided regardless of gender, race, nationality or religion, whether he’s a friend or foe. Thus, the IDF and MDA must offer medical care if it is needed immediately, eligibility for medical insurance not withstanding. Every doctor and medic in the army takes an oath to conduct themselves in this fashion. The world at large knows little about these occurrences; “the world” is more interested in incidents of harm brought to Arabs rather then cases of treating them. There is no doubt the world should know more about these activities”.

Jerusalem district MDA spokesman, Danny Rotenberg, added that the MDA, as a national rescue organization, provides emergency care services throughout the entire State of Israel, including Judea and Samaria. He said that the population of Judea and Samaria includes an Arab segment, and when the MDA receives an emergency call, it is understood that they are morally obligated to provide medical care via the medical teams dispersed throughout Judea and Samaria.

When asked about the funding of medical treatment for Palestinians, Rotenberg points out that it’s a sensitive issue. The MDA never stipulates the provision of medical care with the ability to pay for it. First, medical care is provided, and then the issue of reimbursement is examined on an individual basis. “We hope that through cooperation in emergency cases of this kind, we are acquiring ambassadors of good will on the basis of the love of human kindness regardless of religion, age or nationality”. Avigdor Shatz, Director of the security department in the Benyamin regional municipality, said in a statement: “This phenomenon exists in other settlements in Judea and Samaria, although not as frequently as in Neve Tsuf, which is situated on a main route, and therefore is more accessible to the Palestinian population”. He added that as a professional he offers support to anyone who requires it. “I think this is a part of a basic set of ethics which anyone who provides medical care should have. And this is how we conduct ourselves. The number of Palestinian casualties in car accidents we treat is immense, and does not consist only of those who seek care at the front gate”.

When posed with the question of whether the Palestinian population and their representatives conveyed any expressions of gratitude, he replied that there is a big gap between what actually happens and between what the politicians report on our side, as well as what is publicized outwardly. “This aspect is of less interest to me, I don’t think the Palestinian Authority has expressed any gratitude except in two cases which occurred in the Palestinian Authority’s territory. In one case, a large purification facility collapsed while the concrete was being laid, and we came and rescued tens of casualties and treated them. In another case, a building in El-Bira collapsed; an entire floor fell in, we arrived with other medical teams such as the IDF’s search and rescue unit, and provided medical care and evacuated the wounded. In the first case the engineer’s company which designed the facility published a newspaper ad thanking us, and in the second case the governor of Ramallah thanked us personally”.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/saving-lives-in-judea-and-samaria-the-untold-story/2012/01/25/

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