B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider presented 10 satellite phones to the commanders of 10 regional civilian search and rescue teams at a ceremony that took place on May 4 at the Emek Israel Regional Council office in northern Israel.
This is the first stage of B’nai B’rith International’s Mt. Carmel fire recovery program to be completed. The cost of the phones—each of which carried a dedication from both B’nai B’rith International and B’nai B’rith Europe (the primary funders of the program)—including a two-year operation package, was $25,000.
“When B’nai B’rith learned that the fire destroyed communication towers, severely impacting communication efforts, we wanted to provide this technology for the response teams,” B’nai B’rith International Interim President Allan J. Jacobs said. “Our ability to respond to the unmet needs in disaster and emergency assistance is due to our donors and members who ardently support these campaigns.”
The regional search and rescue teams are all members of F.I.R.S.T.—Fast Israel Rescue and Search Teams, which has been a major partner in B’nai B’rith’s international disaster relief missions undertaken around the world through IsraAID—The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid.
“Both F.I.R.S.T. and IsraAID provide vital ground-level aid to communities facing disasters and destruction. With the addition of the satellite phones, we hope to strengthen their already highly effective support and relief efforts as they respond to those in desperate need of humanitarian aid in Israel and around the world,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said.
F.I.R.S.T. Chairman Avi Bahar, a former senior Israel Defense Forces officer, expressed deep gratitude to B’nai B’rith and its contributors for making the satellite phones available. He noted that the teams had long wanted use of this essential communications tool, but the purchase price and operating costs were too expensive for his all-volunteer force.
“This equipment will undoubtedly save lives here in Israel and will also serve us on disaster relief missions abroad,” Bahar added.
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