IsraAid Team Hailed for “Incredible Initiative” in Assisting British Flood Victims

An IsraAid delegation is being hailed for the relief it’s extending to residents of Yorkshire county in northern England, which suffered severe flooding at the end of December, The Jewish Chronicle reported on Wednesday.

The volunteers– Navonel Glick, Mickey Noam-Alon, Yuval Statman, and Gilad Lavi– have been helping rebuild destroyed homes and distributing supplies to the affected areas. Shachar Zahavi, the founding director of IsraAid, said that his organization contacted Jewish communities in Britain to learn where their support was needed most, then made arrangements to send a team. “We have responded to 10 floods and tornado disasters in the United States and when we saw what was happening to the UK it looked worse than ever before,” he added.

A second Israeli team is set to travel to Britain once IsraAid determines where they could be of greatest assistance.

“This is an incredible initiative,” said Councillor Judith Chapman, who is Lord Mayor of Leeds, a city in Yorkshire. “I find it heartwarming to see that a delegation from Israel is prepared to drop everything in order to reach out to those in Yorkshire who have been affected by this recent terrible crisis and offer professional aid and support and their technical expertise. When we hear about the dreadfully disturbing events taking place worldwide then this humanitarian act puts everything into perspective and restores one’s faith in mankind.”

Simon Jackson, who heads the Leeds Jewish Representative Council, praised the IsraAid volunteers for offering their assistance without being asked. “It’s quite amazing that the humanitarian reach of Israel through IsraelAid stretches all the way to the flood hit region of West Yorkshire, to a place many have never heard of, Hebden Bridge, where very few Jews live,” he added.

According to Glick, who is heading the mission to Yorkshire and serves as IsraAid’s deputy director, “when the victims realised we had actually travelled from Israel they couldn’t believe it. Suddenly they started to grin from ear to ear and then the reaction was, ‘Wow! Really? From Israel. You truly came to help us from Israel?’”

This is IsraAid’s first mission in Britain. Last year, the organization sent a team of volunteers to help with relief efforts in Texas following flooding there. In October 2014, Glick joined a delegation that flew to Iraqi Kurdistan to assist Yazidi refugees.

Founded in 2001, IsraAid describes itself as “a non-profit, non-governmental organization committed to providing life-saving disaster relief and long term support” around the world.

In Heroes in a Wrathful World, which was published in the November 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine, Nathan Jeffay documented IsraAid’s efforts to assist Syrian refugees in Europe.

As boat after boat arrives at the Greek island of Lesbos, the refugees aboard are met by a cacophony of languages from aid workers offering help. But there is only one team of aid workers from the Middle East that can talk to these refugees from Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere in their own language. To their surprise, it is the Israeli team.

“It feels like I dreamed it,” said a bemused 26-year-old man from Damascus. “I never thought an Israeli would treat me.” His wife had just received medical help from IsraAID, a humanitarian aid agency that started working on the European refugee crisis in September. It currently has a team in Lesbos and another on the Serbia-Croatia border.

The Israeli team checked his wife, who is nine months pregnant, as she stepped off the boat, and took her to the hospital for emergency treatment. “I wouldn’t have known that she was not okay, and because of them I knew to get her attention,” he said.

[Photo: Creative Commons / YouTube ]