Israel begins a drill to receive international aid after an earthquake

Israeli emergency authorities began a major four-day exercise on Sunday simulating receiving tons of aid from allied nations amid a devastating earthquake.reported the Ministry of Defense.

The drill, run by the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA), will have 120 participants from 17 countries – Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, Romania, Spain, Sweden, along with Israel – as well as the European Union and the United Nations.

According to the ministry, the drill will simulate all emergency procedures after a major earthquakeincluding the decision to request international assistance, the integration of foreign rescue teams with Israeli teams, and the receipt and distribution of international aid to various locations in the country,

Before the exercise, a NEMA official told The Times of Israel that Israel had never received aid after an earthquake. Following the devastating earthquake that struck southeastern Turkey last month – to which Israel sent search and rescue teams and a field hospital – authorities realized the importance of coordinating the receipt of aid.

The drill will first simulate officials sending a distress call to partner nations and then filtering the appropriate responses, depending on the severity of the situation and the needs of the Israeli authorities to respond to the earthquake.

Officials from the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) headquarters during a drill to receive international aid in the event of an earthquake, March 12, 2023. (Ministry of Defense)

In the next phase, international search and rescue teams, made up of a minimal crew, will arrive at Ben Gurion Airport and the Allenby border crossing with Jordan, join teams from the Home Front Military Command and the Ministry of Health, and they will travel to various parts of the country to simulate rescue operations.

Meanwhile, other international aid will continue to arrive at the airport in the coming days and will be distributed accordingly.

The official said that almost all of Israel’s government ministries participate in the drillalong with the Israel Defense Forces and the police, under the assumption that they will all remain operational during a major earthquake.

“The Ministry of Defense can help transport relief teams to their sites, the Ministry of Communications can approve the communication frequencies of relief teams, the Ministry of Environmental Protection can approve materials entering the country , etc.”, explained the official.

NEMA plans to conduct similar drills for receiving international aid in the midst of a simulated war, major terrorist attack and mass catastrophe, as well as other earthquake-related exercises, this year.

NEMA Director Yoram Laredo said 2023 was designated as the year to “focus on improving national earthquake preparedness, with the devastating earthquake in Turkey further increasing the challenges we face.”

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“The appreciated cooperation with our partners abroad is a crucial element in achieving this and enhances the ability of the State of Israel to receive extensive humanitarian aid in emergency situations,” he said, in remarks provided by the ministry.

Israel lies along an active fault line: the Great Rift Valley, or Syro-African fault linea tear in the earth’s crust that includes the border area that separates Israel from Jordan.

Several minor tremors have occurred in the past month.

The last major earthquake to hit the region was in 1927 – a magnitude 6.2 temblor that killed 500 people and injured 700 – and seismologists estimate that earthquakes of this type occur in this region about every 100 years.

Researchers from Tel Aviv University published a study in 2020 in which they warned that an earthquake of this type is likely to occur in the country in the coming years, of sufficient magnitude to cause hundreds of fatalities.

NEMA -also known by its Hebrew acronym RAHEL-, which was created in 2007 after the Second Lebanon War the previous year, was to act as a supervisory body for the various emergency response organizations in the country, directing them in times of crisis. .

However, in practice it has been largely ineffective, partly due to the fact that its power derives from easily modifiable government decisions, rather than more permanent legislative authority. Following reductions in its staff and budget in recent years, and due in part to political considerations, NEMA was largely sidelined during the coronavirus pandemic, playing an inconsequential role during precisely the type of event it was required to oversee.

Via:
The Times of Israel

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