Israeli Humanitarian Relief: MASHAV-Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation

Israeli Humanitarian Relief: MASHAV-Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation

  Israeli Humanitarian Relief Operations

"If there be among you a needy man, one of thy brethren, within any of thy gates, in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thy heart, nor shut thy hand from thy needy brother."
Deuteronomy 15:7


Israel views humanitarian aid as an integral part of its role in the international arena. Activities of MASHAV - Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation - focus on areas in which Israel has a comparative advantage and/or accumulated expertise. MASHAV believes that our greatest possible contribution can be made in fields where Israel has expertise directly relevant to emerging nations. Due to Israel's own successful experience of rapid development, the list of such fields is particularly extensive, including: irrigation, desert agriculture and combat of desertification, water management, early childhood education, community development, emergency and disaster medicine, refugee absorption and employment programs, and many many others.


Israel's efforts formally began in 1958, with the establishment of MASHAV, the Center for International Cooperation, following the first visit of Foreign Minister Golda Meir to Africa. MASHAV has been invited to many developing countries where it has helped alleviate hunger, disease and poverty. In the 1970s, Israel broadened its humanitarian aid agenda by granting safe haven to refugees and foreign nationals in distress - from Vietnam, Bosnia and Kosovo. Since the 1980s, Israel has also provided humanitarian aid in the wake of natural disasters and terrorist attacks beyond its borders.

In all, over 140 countries/authorities have benefited from the State of Israel's international humanitarian aid.

In the mid-1990s, having provided emergency aid to disaster victims in Argentina, Armenia, Russia, Rwanda, Bosnia and other nations, the need arose for Israel to establish a permanent humanitarian and emergency aid unit. In July 1995, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Israel Defense Forces formally established such a unit. Since then, the unit has carried out operations in Kenya, Albania, Macedonia, Mexico, Afghanistan, Poland, Congo, Vietnam and many other countries.

Health Programs

Dozens of activities were undertaken during the period between 1995-97, including the dispatching of medical experts to conduct on-site courses, the running of "eye treatment camps", as well as conducting advanced training courses in Israel. MASHAV provided the backing and support needed for the successful implementation of several complex projects, including the establishment of intensive care units in Eritrea and Turkmenistan, and the partial funding of a delegation sent to treat casualties resulting from the train disaster in Azerbaidzhan.

In late 1997, it was decided to set up a unit in MASHAV to coordinate medical affairs, with the objective of offering a variety of professional initiatives and solutions to various medical and health-related issues on the international scene.

MASHAV also provides a range of training courses in epidemiology and emergency and disaster medicine, including a course in Advanced Trauma Care. In 2000, courses in this field were conducted in numerous partner countries, including Azerbeijan, Bulgaria, the Dominican Republic, Latvia, Uzbekistan and China.

During 2001, MASHAV continued to enlarge the scope of its medical assistance and humanitarian aid program, including the operation of two-week "eye-camps" in five partner countries, in which Israeli ophthamologists treated hundreds of patients for preventable blindness and ocular disease. MASHAV also conducted many short-term consultancies in various areas of medicine and public health and presided over the rapid emergency dispatch of Israeli doctors and medical supplies in response to natural disasters worldwide. In light of Israel's expertise in the field of disaster response and emergency medicine, we intend on further expanding our activities in this field in the coming years, both by dispatching crisis response teams where needed and providing training in trauma medicine and disaster response to interested partner countries.

Emergency and Disaster Medicine

In light of Israel's great experience in the fields of Emergency and Disaster Medicine, we are often asked by partner countries to share our expertise. In the last few years, MASHAV has sent numerous teams to conduct courses on Emergency and Disaster Medicine. These teams train cadres of doctors, nurses, medical technicians and administrators to deal with mass casualty events and to treat multiple trauma patients, sharing clinical expertise and experience in organizing response to mass casualty events. Theoretical training is accompanied by practical simulation exercises, sometimes with the participation of Civil Defense, Firefighters, Police and Hospitals, in accordance with scenarios relevant to the specific region.

Many of MASHAV's health projects take advantage of Israel's strong expertise in disaster management and emergency medicine. In the year 2000, such projects have included upgrading the Trauma Center in Al-Amal Hospital in the Gaza Strip and beginning construction of a Cancer Center in Mauritania. MASHAV also built a large state-of-the-art Intensive Care Unit in Kharkov, Ukraine and rebuilt an upgraded ICU and Rehabilitation Center in Düzce, Turkey, following the tragic earthquake there.

Israel's cooperation and humanitarian assistance activities in Turkey continued to focus on reconstruction after the tragic earthquake in Western Turkey in August 1999. Israel continued to administer a "village" established immediately following the earthquake. The village provided comfortable housing suitable for long-term dwelling and all necessary utilities and infrastructure for 2,500 displaced persons. Management of the village and maintenance of its facilities was transferred to a Turkish company in the course of the year 2000.

Israel also completed construction of a hyperbaric chamber for Chapa Hospital in Istanbul, for treatment of earthquake victims and victims of underwater diving accidents. Both of these projects included construction of the facilities, donation of all necessary equipment and technology and extensive training courses both in Turkey and in Israel for hospital staff.

In the year 2001, Emergency and Disaster Medicine courses were held in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India, Turkey and the Ukraine.

Selected Israeli emergency aid operations:  

India (January 2001) 

Presentation of aid to
earthquake victims, Peru (2001)

  • Israeli aid to Haiti, field hospital set up - January 2010
  • Israeli aid team in Philippines - October 2009
  • Israel extends humanitarian and medical aid to the Democratic Republic of the Congo - November 2008
  • Israel flies in relief volunteers to Myanmar - May 2008
  • Israeli aid arrives in Sri Lanka and Indonesia - January 2005
  • Israeli aid to earthquake victims in India - January 2001
  • Israeli aid to earthquake victims in El Salvador - January 2001
  • Emergency aid to Ethiopia - April 2000
  • Israeli aid for Turkish earthquake victims - August 1999
  • Aid to Kosovo refugees - April 1999
  • Israeli medical aid to flood victims in Central America - November 1998
  • IDF search & rescue mission after bombing of US Embassy in Kenya - August 1998
  • Operation 'Interns for Hope': Israeli medical aid for Rwandan refugees in Zaire - July 1994

    Israel has extended humanitarian aid to the following countries:

    Albania * Angola * Argentina * Armenia * Azerbaijan * Belarus * Benin * Bolivia * Bosnia & Herzogovina * Bourkina-Fasso * Brazil * Bulgaria * Gurundi * Cambodia * Cameroon * Chad * Chile * China * Columbia * Congo * Costa Rica * Cote d'Ivoire * Cyprus * Czech Republic * Democratic Republic of Congo * Deominican Republic * Ecuador* Egypt * El Salvador * Eritrea * Estonia * Ethiopia * Fiji * Gambia * Georgia * Ghana * Greece * Guatemala * Guinea * Guinea-Bissau * Guyana * Haiti * Honduras * Hungary * India * Indonesia * Jamaica * Jordan * Kazakhstan * Kenya * Kyrgystan * Laos * Latvia * Leshotho * Liberia * Lithuania * Macedonia * Madagascar * Malawi * Malta * Mauritania * Mauritius * Mexico * Micronesia * Moldova * Mongolia * Morocco * Myanmar * Namibia * Nepal * Nicaragua * Nigreia * Palestinian Authority * Panama * Papua New Guinea * Paraguay * Peru * Philippines * Poland * Romania * Russia * Rwanda * Senegal * Seychelles Islands * Singapore * Slovakia * Somalia * South Africa * South Korea * Sri Lanka *Swaziland * Tadjikistan * Tanzania * Thailand * Togo * Tonga * Tunisia * Turkey * Turkmenistan * Uganda * Ukraine * United States * Uruguay * Uzbekistan * Venezuela * Vietnam * Yugosloslavia * Zaire * Zambia * Zimbabwe

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