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Making Heroes

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With the world in awe of the Israeli response to the tragedy in Haiti, much energy has focused on the reason that Israel is good at this kind of disaster relief. Yes it is true that Israel deals with these traumatic crisis on a regular basis. But experience alone cannot simply account for excellence.

It turns out that three Israeli officers that are part of the rescue efforts – who trained the people on the ground in Haiti – all went to the same school, Boys Town Jerusalem.

As the world intently watches the horrifying earthquake destruction in Haiti, three Israeli Army colonels are closely following the events from 6,500 miles away—with an eye on gaining know-how that will save lives in future catastrophes. The three officers, experts in human rescue, have worked closely in training and equipping the Israeli rescue team who rushed to the scene in Port-au-Prince, and with whom they maintain 24-hour-a-day contact from afar. All three men are on alert to be dispatched to Haiti at any moment. And all three share a personal bond: each graduated from Boys Town Jerusalem where they developed a mission to save human lives, anywhere in the world.

“The Israeli rescue and medical team was among the very first to arrive in Haiti, even though they traveled a much farther distance than the others. And with each hour, they are gaining world renown for working miracles,” explains Colonel Ben-Tzvi Elyassi, who serves as a commander in the IDF Home Front Command. One of Israel’s top experts in rescue and relief operations, Elyassi’s 25-year military career has provided him with “hands-on” experience in saving human lives in disasters of untold proportions. Col. Elyassi assumed second-in-command control of Israeli search-and-relief missions and was dispatched to the 2002 earthquake in India, the 1999 earthquake in Turkey, and the 1999 earthquake in Greece—in addition to a host of military and civilian disasters in Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

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