The Thai Youth Soccer Team Rescue… Is There a Jewlicious Angle?
You bet there is.
First and foremost, are the prayers from people worldwide, Jews and Israelis included, for the safe and even quick rescue of the boys and their coach.
Next are the volunteers and the possible use of Israeli technology in the rescue efforts.
Two weeks ago, on June 23, after an intrasquad soccer match in Northern Thailand on the border with Myanmar near Chang Rai and Mae Sai, a team of twelve boys aged 11 to 16, and their 25 year old coach (Ekapol “Aek” Chanthawong) went to the Tham Luang Nang Non caves to explore. The Wild Boars team was trapped in the caves, about 3 treacherous miles (of swimming) from the entrance, by monsoon rains and flooding, and a frantic but organized rescue operation commenced.
Remarkably, the team was discovered — weak but alive — this week. The Thai government and military, along with volunteers from around the world, are now trying to keep the team alive and figure out how to extract them from the complex cave system. Some are suggesting that if air, food, and communications can be maintained, and more flooding can be averting, it may be best to keep the team underground for the next four months**. This option may be safer than to teach the youth to swim and scuba dive. (Currently, it takes experienced divers up to six hours to reach the stranded youths, due to the flooding, darkness, and narrow passageways)
Volunteers and offers to help arrived from around the world. In addition to Thai Navy special forces and area residents and farmers, experienced and expert search and rescue personnel from the United Kingdom, United States, China, Laos, Myanmar, Australia and other countries arrived at the scene. An Israeli company was asked to supply and deploy their communications technology that could penetrate rock caves (which normally absorb communications waves).
On June 25, a day after learning of the missing children, Maxtech Networks, based in Yavne, Israel, sent seventeen of their patented and resilient Max-Mesh mobile professional radio systems; it works where no physical infrastructure is available, and normally has a six figure price tag. It uses sophisticated relay technology algorithms.
Its CEO and founder, Uzi Hanuni, was happy to help. Hanuni explained that, “On every rescue mission you need to coordinate the rescue team and to know at all times where they are… These caves are… long, and you can’t send messengers back and forth through them… No other system could work here… It’s helping to keep the first responders alive.”
Yuval Zalmanov, a senior software engineer at the firm, voluntarily flew to Thailand to set up the systems and its supporting computer networks.
Asaf Zmirly, an Israeli residing in Thailand, who represents Maxtech Networks, founded DiPiO Systems Ltd. in Petah Tikva, and leads a firm dedicated to rescues, funded the flight and is part of the rescue operation. In addition, his photos from the scene (he has a degree in photography from New York City’s School of Visual Arts) are being used by media sites worldwide.
Rabbi Yosef Kantor of Bangkok offered up this prayer: “We offer our prayers that the boys, their coach, and all the resuers and volunteers get out safe and sound. The boys will please G-d go back to their parents and hopefully be none the worse for their ordeal.”
Danny Bull, a video journalist for the BBC is reporting from the caves. An active member of a Jewish community in Bangkok, Bull wrote that he is filming the works of rescuers who are attempting to divert streams of water away from entering the the cave system. This is going on as others continue to try to pump massive amounts of water out of the caves. He is posting his videos at https://www.facebook.com/dannybullmedia/
Also reporting and tweeting from the scene is @yayqe Jacob Goldberg, a journalist and relatively recent graduate of UCLA. Goldberg, who speaks English, Tagalog, Hebrew, Arabic, and Burmese, won an award last year for an opinion piece taking Aung San Suu Kyi to task for the rapes of civilians by government soldiers. His latest postings told of Dr. Thanes Weerasiri, president of the Engineering Institute of Thailand, who believes he has found a natural hole near the end of the cave that could lead to Nom Sao Slope, where the boys are. #13????????????
** On Friday, July 6, Thai Navy SEAL commander, Rear Admiral Arpakorn Yookongkaew, said that when the boys were found, it was believed that they could survive for a long period. But with at least three of the boys weakening, and the oxygen level dropping to below 16% (hypoxia danger zone), the rescue teams have limited time to save the children.