Photo Credit: United Hatzalah
Yechiel and Vladimir with the precious Aliyah papers, March 27, 2022.

In addition to the humanitarian aid that United Hatzalah’s team has been providing to Ukrainian refugees on the Moldovan border as well as at refugee centers in and around the Moldovan capital of Kishinev, the organization and its volunteers have also undertaken a series of small-scale rescue missions inside Ukraine itself, according to a press release issued on Sunday.

Last week, United Hatzalah purchased four local ambulances to send special teams inside the country from Moldova and Slovakia with the mission of distributing medical supplies to hospitals in dire need near the border, and rescuing and recovering injured and ill people who wish to flee the country but are unable to do so due to their medical condition.


One of these missions took place on Sunday morning, after a group of Ukrainian Jewish citizens who stayed to protect the Jewish community property, businesses, and synagogues in various towns in western Ukraine had contacted Hatzalah and requested medical and trauma care equipment. These were not warriors or paramedics, but fathers who were not allowed to leave the country with their wives, children, and parents and were forced instead to stay and fight as part of the mandatory conscription in Ukraine. They have since organized and risked their lives protecting the lives and property of others.

United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Yehiel Gurfein who has been in Moldova continuously since Operation Orange Wings began back on February 27th, together with Vladimir, a local volunteer from the Jewish community of Moldova, departed from Moldova to bring the much needed medical supplies to the Ukrainian Jewish citizens turned soldiers. The equipment included trauma bandages, tourniquets, medications, and food.

Yechiel and Vladimir delivering a duffle bag full of medical supplies to Ukrainian citizens, March 27, 2022. / United Hatzalah

After a few hours on the road with numerous checkpoint stops and artillery explosions in the distance, Yechiel and Vladimir met up with the staff on the Ukrainian side and began instructing the men on using the equipment they had delivered.

Meanwhile, with Yechiel and Vladimir over on the other side of the border, United Hatzalah’s dispatch in Kishinev received a heartbreaking request from Israel regarding a family of Ukrainian refugees who had arrived in the country just a few days earlier on one of Hatzalah’s rescue flights. Entering Israel, the family faced bureaucratic difficulties since they didn’t possess documentation proving they were Jewish and eligible to make Aliyah under the Law of Return.

The family was told that if they weren’t able to provide proof of their Jewish heritage, then at the end of the grace period Israel extended to all refugees, they would be deported.

The documents in question remained in their home in Ukraine, which just happened to be located in the same city where Yechiel and Vladimir were headed.

Yechiel coordinated with the men in Ukraine and asked them to go to the family’s abandoned home and find the documents so vital to the family’s Aliyah to Israel.

The local team of Ukrainian Jews managed to locate the apartment in question and found the documents. When Yechiel and Vladimir arrived and handed over the medical supplies, they received the documents in return.

After traveling back to Kishinev, the documents were handed to Hatzalah volunteers who were returning to Israel Sunday night onboard a rescue flight that brought 165 Ukrainian refugees to safe shelter plus the documents that would enable this one family to complete its immigration process and avoid deportation.

David Krispil, the commander of United Hatzalah’s Operation Orange Wings mission said: “I was in touch with Yechiel and Vladimir throughout this difficult operation that was fraught with peril. Throughout the mission, I received continuous reports from both sides and issued instructions to safeguard the health and safety of all involved.”

“These undercover deliveries of food and medical supplies to people inside Ukraine are of vital importance and save lives,” Krispil said, adding: “Later in the day, a second mission took place in which we delivered lifesaving medication to a Ukrainian man in Odesa who had been without his medication for nearly two weeks. Without immediate intervention, this man would not have survived. I am proud of Yechiel, Vladimir, and all the other members of our team who are undertaking these covert missions and helping to save lives each and every day inside Ukraine and on the borders. It is the least that we can do to mitigate the human tragedy of this war.”


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