An advance team from the United Hatzalah volunteer medical organization has been active in Morocco since early Sunday morning, according to a statement from the volunteer medical organization.
The international emergency medical and rescue NGO, received numerous requests for assistance from the local Jewish community in Morocco as well as from volunteers of the organization who were present in Morocco.
The calls for help came after the devastating 6.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the country late Friday night. More than 2,000 people were killed and nearly as many were injured, including more than 1,000 reported to be in critical condition.
The earthquake severely damaged the ancient Jewish Quarter in Marrakesh, including two synagogues in the quarter.
In response, on Saturday night the organization sent a small delegation of responders from different countries to assist. This ‘go’ team was tasked with building an on-site situation assessment in preparation for a larger delegation that would be sent later.
“Our initial team on the ground aims to create a situation assessment, connect with local resources and government agencies, as well as meet with community leaders to gauge what assistance is needed,” said Dov Maisel, Vice President of Operations for United Hatzalah.
The team is currently conducting meetings with several high-ranking Moroccan officials to better understand the emergency medical needs and humanitarian needs on the ground in the disaster area. The team is working in complete cooperation with the local governments and community leaders, the organization said.
Additionally, the team met up with and grouped together volunteers from the organization who were already in Morocco for vacation and for the Hillula (yarzheit) of Rabbi Haim Pinto which is set to take place on the 26th of Elul (Tuesday).
“As with previous disasters around the globe, United Hatzalah is assisting as quickly as possible both with emergency response and humanitarian aid,” said President and Founder of United Hatzalah Eli Beer.
Morocco re-established its diplomatic ties with Israel in 2020. Nevertheless, despite multiple offers of assistance from the Israel Defense Forces, Magen David Adom (MDA) emergency medical response service and various Israeli ministries, Morocco has declined to formally request assistance from the Jewish State. Without a formal request, Israel cannot deploy its highly-effective search and rescue, medical and humanitarian aid teams to the country.
The Rabat government sent a letter on Sunday to the Israeli government, thanking Israel and expressing its appreciation for the offers of help. “They said, ‘We are still trying to determine what our needs are, and we will let you know,'” a source with knowledge of the correspondence told JewishPress.com. “By the way, the same letter was sent to about ten other countries that offered their assistance as well,” the source added, emphasizing, “It’s not about Israel.”