Op-Ed: Israel Mobilizes to Help the Ukrainian People

Food items were delivered on behalf of MASHAV Israel to local NGOs working with Ukrainian refugees on the Moldova-Ukraine border. Source: Twitter.

By Ambassador Daniel Meron

The Jewish sages teach us that Abraham’s tent was open in all four directions because he wanted to be prepared to lend assistance to anyone who happened to pass by. In the spirit of our forefather, Israel has been working since its establishment to provide much-needed assistance in catastrophes around the world. Israel’s tradition of helping its friends across the globe during their most difficult moments is now being realized in Ukraine.

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine is undoubtedly changing the face of the international arena and creating a large-scale humanitarian challenge that the world must now grapple with. Since the outbreak of the conflict, Israeli diplomats have been at the forefront of realizing the State of Israel’s humanitarian response, as set out by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

In a landmark operation, Israel has established a field hospital in the city of Mostyska in western Ukraine, the first foreign country to do so during this crisis. The “Shining Star” field hospital was a joint initiative of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Health and Sheba Medical Centre, and was established with assistance of the entire Israeli healthcare system and support of the Schusterman Philanthropy.

In response to requests it received from the Ukrainian authorities, Mashav — the Foreign Ministry’s Agency for International Development Cooperation — sent a 100-ton shipment of humanitarian aid to the citizens of Ukraine and also sent six mega-generators to Lviv’s central hospital that will allow it to continue operating even in in the event of power and electricity outages.

Israeli non-profits have mobilized in an unprecedented manner to provide humanitarian assistance to the Ukrainian people as well. IsraAID, a veteran Israeli humanitarian NGO, is on the ground in Moldova with psychosocial and other professionals to assist those recovering from trauma and with a clinic for women and children.

Topaz International has formed a joint task force to prevent vulnerable women fleeing Ukraine from falling prey to human trafficking.

Access Israel, a non-profit that promotes accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities, has coordinated assistance for people with disabilities attempting to flee Ukraine, sending special ambulances and more as part of its “Purple Vest Mission.”

To centralize and coordinate all these humanitarian aid initiatives and donations, and connect Israeli civil society to the Ukrainian people, the Foreign Ministry has established the “Matat” donation and coordination center.

Matat has coordinated with NGOs on the ground, whether that be with medical clowns from Dream Doctors who are cheering up children at border crossings, or with NATAN Worldwide Disaster Relief, which is providing psychosocial counseling and medical assistance on the Polish border.

The unprecedented number of offers to help are heart-warming. To this end, the Israeli government recently announced its intention to ease entry restrictions in order to provide refugees temporary shelter in the country and speed up its immigration process for Ukrainians who are seeking Israeli citizenship.

The images of refugees fleeing war in Europe have undoubtedly evoked the memory of our own grim moments, and we therefore feel especially compelled to help. As the situation unfolds and develops, Israel will continue to offer assistance in the hope that it can contribute to alleviating the humanitarian tragedy.

Ambassador Daniel Meron is head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ‘MATAT’ Coordination and Donation Center for the Ukrainian People