5 July 2015 - 18 Tammuz 5775 - י"ח תמוז ה' אלפים תשע"ה

Following April’s 7.9-magnitude earthquake and subsequent aftershocks in Nepal, updated figures as of end of May from the Nepal Red Cross Society, reported that the death toll stood at 8,143, the number of injured was 17,576, and 260 people were still missing.

Nepal is still coming to terms with the massive devastation of large parts of the country, including the capital, Kathmandu. Nepal’s National Emergency Operations Center estimated that more than 10% of the country’s homes were damaged or destroyed. According to UNICEF, more than 1.7 million children needed immediate assistance. Many international aid agencies and foreign governments have been involved in delivering much-needed financial assistance and supplies.

Israel and Nepal have very close ties. Thousands of Israeli backpackers visit the country every year to trek, sightsee and go hiking in the Himalayas. At the time of the earthquake, around 500 Israelis were located in Nepal, thanks to efforts led by the Department for Israelis Abroad at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem. About 250 people have been flown home to Israel, however several remain unaccounted for.

Israel’s Embassy in Delhi provided considerable support to the aid and rescue efforts. Staff from the Ministry in Jerusalem and nearby missions – among them the Deputy DG for Asia and the Pacific, the regional administrative officer for Asia, the New Delhi consul, were sent to assist the people in the field.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote to Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala within hours of the first earthquake on 25 April, saying that Israel was pained by the disaster that had befallen Nepal, and offering Israel’s assistance. He conveyed his condolences to the families of the victims and wished a full recovery to the injured.

Jewish and Israeli humanitarian aid delegations have been one of the largest international groups to assist in the relief efforts, with an 80-member IDF humanitarian aid delegation flying to Nepal within 48 hours of the disaster. They were joined by another cargo flight with around 170 trained military personnel. During the following two weeks, the IDF search-and-rescue teams were deployed near Kathmandu to locate survivors in the rubble of collapsed buildings.

A field hospital was set up in Chhauni to provide medical services for the local population. It had two operating rooms, four intensive-care rooms, 80 hospital beds and 260 military medical personnel, including specialists in neonatal and adult care. Approximately 1,500 patients were treated in the hospital and other locations. More than 70 life-saving surgeries took place, and eight babies were born in the hospital.

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South Korean Deputy Prime Minister visits Israel E-mail

South Korean Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Hwang Woo-yea visited Israel on an official trip, and was warmly greeted by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on 29 April.

The Deputy Prime Minister also met with Reuven Rivlin, Israel’s President, and visited some educational establishments and met with academics, professors and some business leaders from the Korean-Israeli community.

During his meeting with Minister Hwang Woo-yea, Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a press conference at which he highlighted Israel and South Korea’s excellent relationships and the recent Lausanne framework, which deals with Iran’s nuclear programme, mirroring South Korea’s position facing its neighbour, North Korea.

“I am very concerned that the Lausanne framework is repeating the mistakes made with North Korea. Under the Lausanne framework, Iran is left with the ability to develop with R&D advanced centrifuges that actually advance its nuclear programme; I think the repetition of these mistakes is a great historic blunder,” said Prime Minister Netanyahu.

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Ambassador in Thailand disappointed with Hitler comments E-mail

Israel’s Ambassador to Thailand expressed extreme disappointment over statements made last month by a minor Thai royal denying the holocaust of WWII.

Ambassador Simon Roded expressed “disappointment and extreme regret” over the comment by ML Rungguna Kitiyakara, a descendent of 19th-century King Rama V of Thailand, the Bangkok Post reported.

On his Facebook, ML Rungguna praised Nazi leader Adolf Hitler as a genius and patriot, and said the holocaust was “Propaganda”. Mr Roded’s statement, written in Thai, said it was “a shame that someone with such opportunity, and education... would perpetuate a myth that history has proven false.” Around 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis during the Third Reich.

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Israel’s population up from last year E-mail

Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics has reported that Israel’s population has grown by 2%.

Figures are announced annually on the eve of Yom Ha’ Atzmaut, Israel’s National Day. This year, Israel marked its 67th anniversary, and its population now stands at 8,345,000. When Israel was established in 1948, the population was just 806,000.

Israel’s Jewish population numbers 6,251,000 (74.9%), and there are 1,730,000 Arabs (20.7%) and 364,000 others (Christians, non-Arabs and other religions) (4.4%). Around 75% of Israelis were born in the country, compared with 35% in 1948.

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A major disaster relief operation recently took place in Nepal, where many hundreds of hikers were trapped. More than four feet of snow fell around the Annapurna trekking route in the Annapurna mountain range of the Himalaya’s on 14-15 October.

At that time bad weather was linked to cyclone Hudhud, which made landfall on the eastern coast of India. Mount Annapurna is the world’s 10thhighest peak and one of the most popular high-altitude treks in Nepal.

Around 400 people had been stranded; half of them were foreigners, according to local reports. Over 220 people had been rescued. Locals and international tourists were among 39 people known to have died. The Nepal Army has now ended its rescue operations.

“The last rescue helicopters hovered over Mustang, Manang and Dolpa districts on 20 October,” said Yadav Koirala, Nepal’s Disaster Management Division. “All the casualties were in those three districts northwest of the capital, Kathmandu. We believe that all the trekkers and guides have been helped and as far as we know there are no more people stranded on the route,’ Koirala added. He also relayed a message that some soldiers would remain camped out in the area.

Those familiar with the location and the route commented that the deaths of so many trekkers on this route was unprecedented. Thousands of foreigners usually attempt to trek the circuit in October, which is considered a favourable month for climbing and is not generally known for severe weather .

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