Israel sends emergency aid to Taiwan
Aug. 17, 2009
Rebbeca Baskin , THE JERUSALEM POST
This image released by the Taiwan Military News Agency shows an extensive area of mudslide in the village of Alishan, central Taiwan, where Typhoon Morakot hit, on Saturday.
In the wake of Typhoon Morakot, the deadliest storm to hit Taiwan in recorded history, Israel has sent a shipment of emergency aid to the southern part of the island, the area hardest hit.
According to Xinhua news, the typhoon has killed some 126 people in Taiwan and left 61 missing.
Raphael Gamzou, head of the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taiwan, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday, "When the scale of devastation was beginning to unfold, I established a contact with the government and told them that our contribution would be water solutions. Water, indeed, is one of the main issues. I have been in contact with the coordination center in Kaohsiung [a city of some 1.5 million people in southern Taiwan]... and we were in contact with the Taiwan water company representative at the coordination center."
"We suggested... [that the representatives] pick what we would donate, so it would be useful."
The representatives chose two types of products from Israeli company Water Sheer - large containers that hold between 700 and 1,000 liters of water, and advanced water purification systems. The products were donated by the Foreign Ministry.
The shipment arrived in Taiwan on Friday, and the Israeli team was quick to bring the aid to where it was most needed.
"On the 16th, I was already in Kaohsiung with my team to demonstrate how to operate [the equipment]. We even translated the instructions into Chinese," says Gamzou. "We went to two villages and delivered water from our containers."
According to Gamzou, the shipment was met with a very warm reception.
"We were very fast [in bringing our aid], and were praised by the local media for being the first country to have its shipment on the ground... The response here of both media and public is extremely warm, and praising Israel for being so efficient, and bringing over its knowledge, expertise and innovative ideas... Many people, Taiwanese and others, [have come to me to] praise the government and people of Israel."
Israel and Taiwan cooperate closely on issues such as culture and trade, and the Taiwanese "are incredibly friendly to Israel... [and] this expression of solidarity of the government and people of Israel will strengthen friendly sentiments," Gamzou adds.
Israel has a proud tradition of providing aid to countries around the world in times of need. Notably, ZAKA first-response teams were dispatched to Turkey in 1999 following a massive earthquake in Izmir which left some 17,000 people dead. Two Turkish families were so grateful that one named its newborn son Israel and the other named its newborn daughter Ziona.
Elan Miller contributed to this report.
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