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Israel embarks on tsunami aid campaign (JERUSALEM POST) By GREER FAY CASHMAN 01/31/05)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1107055730765&p=1078027574097 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
President Moshe Katsav has called on all citizens of Israel to join in the campaign for long-term humanitarian aid for the victims of the tsunami disaster.

At a ceremony at Beit Hanassi on Sunday, Katsav urged all Israelis to contribute to the Israel National Emergency Coalition´s nationwide fundraising drive, which is to be launched on Tuesday.

"We are obligated to fulfill this humanitarian mission and in so doing demonstrate that we are indeed a light unto the nations," said Katsav. "We, the children of the Jewish people who have witnessed so many hardships in our own history, do not have the right to deny assistance when we see the recurring scenes of tragedy that are the outcome of the tsunami disaster," said Katsav.

He expressed pride in the fact that so many Israeli institutions, organizations and individuals had instantly undertaken to help on the first day of the calamity, which has claimed close to 300,000 lives.

"The government and people of Sri Lanka are grateful to the government and people of Israel for their spontaneous and generous assistance," declared Sri Lankan Ambassador Tissa Wijeratne. Sri Lanka was particularly appreciative of the vital supplies received from Israeli humanitarian organizations, which immediately volunteered their services and came forward in a remarkable way to help Sri Lankans resume their normal lives, he said.

Acting Indian Ambassador Satish Mehta noted the "unprecedented international solidarity" in providing much-needed relief. This was a "manifestation of the international community´s shared pain and responsibility," he said, adding that the work of Israeli volunteer organizations needs to be applauded.

Thai Ambassador Kasivat Paruggamanont commented that in good times Thailand was a favorite destination for Israelis, "and in the darkest days," he said, "you stood beside [us] offering a helping hand."

Paruggamanont stressed the important work done by the medical and forensic teams sent by Israel and was also grateful for the equipment sent to help with rescue operations. Thailand had never before witnessed such destruction and devastation from natural causes, he said, adding that people from every background, including a grandson of the king, had lost their lives. He expressed sympathy to the families of Israelis who had died in the calamity.

The lesson of the disaster, said Paruggamanont, is that humanity can overcome adversity.

Amos Nadai, the Foreign Ministry´s deputy director-general for Asia and the Pacific, commended the volunteers and contributors, not only for their magnificent humanitarian work but for boosting Israel´s image in the world during a period of virulent anti-Semitism and anti- Zionism.

Zaka founder Yehuda Meshi-Zahav told The Jerusalem Post that nothing that Zaka had encountered in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Israel had prepared its members for what they saw in Southeast Asia. "If we thought that we knew and understood everything, we discovered that we didn´t," he said. (© 1995-2005, The Jerusalem Post 01/31/05)

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