Honduran president thanks Israel for post-hurricane rescue unit’s work

Honduras “regularly supports Israel in international forums” and “has recently made the decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem,” Gantz and Ashkenazi said in a joint statement.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Honduran President Juan Orlando thanked Israel Saturday for the aid delegation it sent last week in response to his request for aid after two hurricanes devastated a section of his country along with other parts of Central America in November.

“It is not necessary to speak the same language,” Orlando tweeted. “The language of solidarity is universal. Thanks to the mission of the brotherly people of Israel that, in addition to assessing the damage caused by the storms, carries a message of hope to our people!”

The joint mission of the Home Front Command and Foreign Ministry has been in Honduras since Wednesday. It has already charted the devastated areas in the country’s northwest with technical equipment especially developed in Israel for natural disaster response. It is simultaneously training Honduran troops and local authorities in how to deal with such emergencies in the future.

“The members of the delegation are reservists, experts in their fields with experience from similar situations that they have dealt with around the world over the past few years,” said Col. (res.) Golan Vach, who heads Israel’s National Rescue Unit. “The State of Israel and the Home Front Command will continue to assist in the aftermath of any disaster around the world that requires its experience and capabilities.”

In a joint statement announcing the mission, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi pointed to the fact that Honduras “regularly supports Israel in international forums” and “has recently made the decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem.”

Eta and Iota, both Category 4 hurricanes, hit Honduras, Guatemala and Panama two weeks apart last month, killing hundreds and leaving a few hundred thousand homeless. The powerful storms caused massive damage to road infrastructure and agriculture throughout the region with torrential rains and winds reaching 155 mph (250 kph).

The Israeli Foreign Ministry estimated that the double blow was the worst natural disaster to hit the region since Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Israel immediately sent humanitarian aid and equipment to all three countries, with the 15-member rescue specialists landing in Honduras as a continuation of its efforts.

“Israel does not forget its allies, and certainly not when in the throes of a crisis,” said Mattanya Cohen, Israel’s ambassador to Guatemala and Honduras, regarding the aid he helped distribute in Guatemala.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he is “proud of the Israeli humanitarian delegation that is working around the clock in Honduras, following hurricanes Eta and Iota.”

“On behalf of Israel, I wish to send our regards to the people of Honduras and President Juan Orlando,” he added.