Tuesday, July 31, 2007

More violence...and more aid

During the past week there were over 55 projectile launchings, approximately 30 of which landed in Israel. Among these, about 20 Qassam rockets launched into Israel, 11 of which landed in Israel in the past week. At least 9 civilians were wounded by Qassam fire, including a baby girl in Kibbutz Karmia, as well as structural damage that was caused to property in the western Negev.

At the same time, the IDF is continuing its efforts to provide a response to the humanitarian needs in the Gaza Strip. Throughout the last week (8-13/7) the following humanitarian aid was transferred from Israel into the Gaza Strip with the coordination of the Gaza District Coordination and Liaison Office:
  • Sufa Crossing – Approximately 8880 tons food, medical supplies, dairy products, flour, sugar, reproductive eggs, rice, cooking oil, straw and animal feed, raw food materials and construction supplies.
  • Kerem Shalom Crossing – Approximately 1050 tons of food, medical supplies, dairy products, meat products, fruit, cooking oil and reproductive eggs.
  • Karni Crossing – Approximately 4180 tons of wheat seed.

Creating Electricity from....from....

Israel is a land of innovation. If there's a creative way to solve a problem, Israel will find it. While we are still looking for more ways to solve a deficit of water, perhaps we have found a way to solve or help solve our energy needs.

According to a recent article in Globes Magazine, a new plant in the Hefer Valley has begun to produce electricity from cow manure and other organic waste. The Tambour Hefer Ecology plant is located near Hadera. By creating electricity from...from...cow manure, Israel is able to add much needed resources to its often stretched electricity grid, reduce pollutants generated by the communities’ 12,000 dairy cows, and find a good use for 600 tons of manure.

This is Israel!

A Torah Comes Home

An integral part of Israel...is the concept that Jews belong in Israel. Throughout time, Jews have turned towards Israel, no matter where they were, and yearned to come home. This became a reality for hundreds of thousands in the years after Israel was established...re-established...on its ancient homeland. And even more, this became a reality for millions of Jews in the decades that have followed.

A few years ago, an organization known as Nefesh B'Nefesh began assisting Jews to find their way back to Israel by offering real assistance...whatever it would take to enable them to move here. Plane load after plane load filled with new immigrants have landed and today, a very special thank happened. Not only did some 200 new immigrants arrive from the United States, but one of the passengers brought something very special with him.

Dr. Kevin Schreiber, a pediatrician from New York, brought a 250-year old Torah scroll that had been rescued from Krakow, Poland. The scroll was found, almost 20 years ago, by a relative of Schreiber found it hidden in an ancient books' library during a trip to Poland in 1988. The relative took the Torah scroll back with him to the United States, and Dr. Schreiber has now brought it on its final journey home.

Monday, July 16, 2007

When Money Costs More than Money...

Despite the many serious security issues facing Israel on a daily basis, Israelis are as aware as much of the world is that often it is all about the economy.

Many years ago, Israel's inflation rates were skyrocketing and personal savings were plummeting, Israel attempted to rejuvenate its economy by creating the New Israeli Shekel (NIS), as compared to the old shekel that had been its currency. Each new Israeli shekel consisted of 100 agurot.

Long ago, people stopped thinking of the agura (single form of agurot) as anything other than an inconvenience. Shekel was the term and the currency. Several years ago, the one-agurot coin was banned as being simply not practical and so even though stores still priced things according to shekels and agurot...whenever you paid in cash, it was rounded up or down to the nearest 5 or 10 agurot.

Now the Bank of Israel has proposed taking eliminating the five-agorot coin after they conducted a survey that showed that most of the public finds it a bother. The humorous part of this is the simple mathematical equation - it costs 16 agorot to produce each five-agorot coin.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Rockets and More Aid...

On a day when at least four rockets were fired against Israel, our country continued to supply food and medical supplies to the Palestinians in Gaza.

According to today's report: more than 2,500 tons of food, medical supplies and other materials were transferred from Israel to Gaza on Sunday.

At the same time, some 8,433 vaccinations were transferred through the Erez Crossing, while
191 tons of fruit, 71 tons of milk, 33 tons of meat, 4 tons of chicken eggs for breeding, five tons of medical supplies for babies and 10 tons of disposable diapers were transferred through the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

At the Sufa Crossing, 676 tons of sugar passed through, as well as 159 tons of salt, 20 tons of coffee, 20 tons of cocoa, 36 tons of rice, 14 tons of milk powder, 36 tons of tea, 25 tons of silicon, 116 tons of oil, 375 tons livestock feed, 79 tons of bananas, 637 tons of straw and 21 tons of hypochlorite.

The Gift of Sight

"There are none so blind as those who will not see," so said Jonathan Swift, an Irish priest, writer and philosopher (1667-1745). For Israel, it is likely a case of opening people's eyes to see the realities of what we do for the world...one pair of eyes at a time.

Here's one story about how we are doing just that...

Israel to provide eye treatment for South Sudanese refugees in Kenya

For the past few months the Israel Foreign Ministry's Center for International Cooperation (MASHAV) has been in touch with the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Nairobi offering its assistance to the South Sudanese refugees residing in Kakuma refugee camp in Northern Kenya.

The Kakuma camp, near the town of Kakuma, is located in Kenya on the road to Sudan, west of Lake Turkana and about 50 kilometers from the Sudanese border. The camp, which has been in existence for 15 years, holds about 75,000 people, mostly South Sudanese refugees. Currently UNHCR has begun a repartition program, sending refugees from the camp back to South Sudan.
Dr. Yosef Baratz, MASHAV’s project coordinator in Africa has setting up a temporary eye clinic in the camp with equipment purchased beforehand by Israel. The clinic would enable two Israeli eye doctors who would arrive on July 2, 2007 to properly operate on dozens of patients in the two-week period of their stay.

The physicians will provide consultation to local doctors.

Going Among Your Enemies

Can you imagine traveling to the heart of your enemy's country, perhaps to one of the largest cities there, while technically your country is still at war with that enemy? Today, as happens many days in Israel, the ironies of life surrounded us. Two news reports arrived.

The first was of two Israeli men who entered the Arab neighborhood of Azariyeh, near Jerusalem, hoping to sell several hundred pairs of jeans to an Arab resident, and instead the man pulled a knife and robbed them. Little wonder Israelis are forbidden to travel into these areas. And yet, as this was happening, an Iraqi woman was "wondering" into Israel - to receive medical care that will likely save her life. Here is her story:

Iraqi woman provided catheterization in Israeli hospital

The online news media WALLA reports, that a 30 year old Iraqi woman arrived to Rambam hospital in Haifa for catheterization.

The woman’s identity cannot be revealed due to the reason that she comes from one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq where militias could revenge and harm her family who lives in the city.
The Iraqi woman was able to reach Israel with the help of “Shevet Achim” a Christian organization that assists citizens from Arab countries in the Middle East to be treated in Israeli hospitals. This program is meant to bring hearts closer between Israel and the various Arab countries.

During the catheterization which was preformed by Dr. Avraham Lurber, a hole in the heart was repaired and next week the woman will be able to return to her family in Iraq.

Reaching out...to Cyprus

I sometimes feel that this blog is becoming a list of all the things Israelis do to help others and less about life in Israel itself...and yet much of what has happened to us as a people in the past has shaped our willingness and our need to help others. The fact that this help is so ignored by the rest of the world does not lessen the importance of our actions.

Here is Israel, a nation willing to help others....

Israel sends aid to Cyprus to put out fire

At the request of the local government of the Republic of Cyprus, Israel sent two fire-extinguishing airplanes and 33 tones of fire extinguishing materials on Thursday morning (June 28, 2007) to assist in extinguishing fires that broke out in the Troodos Mountains last week.

The relief team which included 7 personnel among them fire fighters and physicians have been working along side local officials to contain the fire during the weekend. The team is currently on its way home.

The forest fire which broke out in the Troodos Mountains threatened the heart of the villages, homes, churches and summer camps. The villages of Pelendri, Saitas, Trimiklini, Kato Amiantos and Dimes have been evacuated.

According to the Forest Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, the fire was caused by high tension cables of the Cyprus Electricity Authority.