In interviews I conducted in recent years, the Home Front Command described its new technological innovations to help map and locate survivors after a disaster.

Damaged vehicle and buildings are pictured near the site of Tuesday's blast in Beirut's port area (photo credit: MOHAMED AZAKIR / REUTERS)
Damaged vehicle and buildings are pictured near the site of Tuesday’s blast in Beirut’s port area (photo credit: MOHAMED AZAKIR / REUTERS)


Within hours of the explosion that tore apart Beirut, killing a hundred and injuring 4,000, Israel was prepared to support its victimized neighbor in its time of need. Lebanon and Israel are not just neighbors; the countries share many commonalities.

The architecture and design of their port cities are rooted in the 1940s and 1950s. The coastline is the same.

The people of Beirut, like Israel’s Tel Aviv, are open-minded and progressive. But the policies of the Lebanese government appear to have prevented immediate aid or support from reaching the tragedy-stricken country.

Israel has extensive experience in search and rescue as well as disaster relief. The Jewish state has pioneered the use of technology to aid in disasters as well, part of the overall technological innovations in the Home Front Command.

These technologies and abilities have been learned from Israel’s experience assisting Haiti in the 2010 earthquake and also in Japan in 2012, after a 15-meter tsunami disabled the Fukushima Daiichi reactors. Israel has also sent aid to Nepal, the Philippines and Mexico during disasters there.
In interviews I conducted in recent years, the Home Front Command described its new technological innovations to help map and locate survivors after a disaster.

Israel has already been recognized for offering support to Lebanon. But Lebanon’s authorities have been slow to respond.

This is despite the fact that Israel’s hospitals in the North are a short trip from Beirut. They have experience working with wounded people from Syria.
During the Syrian civil war, Israel provided help to thousands of people from Syria, where many were wounded in the country’s southern region. This included transfers to hospital and aid at the border.

This was Operation Good Neighbor, and it was successful. Israel also facilitated the transfer of the White Helmets aid workers from southern Syria to Jordan as Good Neighbor was wound down in 2018.

In October 2018, Israel also aided Jordan in search and rescue during a fatal flood. Israeli helicopters provided the support, assisting in the rescue of Jordanian children.

Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry says that Israel upholds the highest standards of assistance and is willing to aid civilians anywhere, from Africa to Iraq, including states like Lebanon, which it does not have relations with.

Israeli aid organizations have also helped to bring people from countries in the region that need life-saving surgery, such as heart surgery for Iraqi children.

I’ve met several of those families, including Kurds from northern Iraq, who received that aid over the years. I’ve also seen what Israel’s search and rescue teams are capable of in the field during drills to help bring people out of collapsed houses.

ACCORDING TO the IDF, Israel has provided aid to almost 30 countries during disasters. This goes back to 1953 in Greece and includes operations in 2004 to help in Egypt, 1998 in Kenya, 2011 in Turkey and 1992 in Croatia, among others.

Israel has thus deployed support globally. It stands to reason that it could be of assistance in Lebanon – and every hour that Lebanese authorities do not agree to Israel’s support or facilitate an aid mission they are passing up a unique opportunity.

The reason Lebanese authorities remained silent in the morning hours of August 5 regarding Israel’s offers is likely due to Hezbollah’s stranglehold on Lebanon.

The movement, which vows to destroy Israel with Iran’s backing, poses as defending Lebanon. But when it comes to actually helping the thousands of Lebanese killed and wounded, the billions of dollars Hezbollah siphons from the Lebanese economy are not there to provide search and rescue.

Instead, Hezbollah is blocking Lebanon from the support it needs in time of economic crisis, in time of COVID-19 and now in time of this latest disaster.

This short-sighted approach illustrates the mirror image of the current work that two leading Israeli defense companies are doing with a company in Abu Dhabi.

Their cooperation, announced in July, is a milestone against COVID-19. Over the last several months, the UAE also sent aid to Israel on two flights.

This partnership illustrates what Israel and regional countries are capable of, even in the absence of direct relations, which Israel lacks with the UAE and other Gulf states. Lebanon would be a natural place for Israel to provide humanitarian support.

Unlike Syria, which is destroyed by civil war, Lebanon’s southern neighbor is a hi-tech giant with the capabilities to aid in times of explosions like the one in that just happened in Beirut.

It appears, at least a day after the explosion, that the ability to rapidly and easily support Lebanon has many hurdles due to its fractured politics and inability to put politics aside in favor of average people.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post