More than 70 people were killed and 3,000 injured in Beirut by massive explosions that decimated the city. An initial explosion seemed to engulf a fireworks storehouse, which continued to send shockwaves across the city. The Beirut port was flattened, buildings throughout the capital city were damaged, and a huge mushroom cloud in the sky cast a shadow over the devastation.
Israeli hospitals responded by reaching out to help, calling upon their long history and experience in treating patients from hostile nations. Since 2013, thousands of Syrian patients have been treated in Israel, with all patients’ identities kept confidential.
Now, three hospitals in Israel have volunteered their medical services and said they would accept injured Lebanese patients: Sheba Medical Center, Ziv Medical Center in Safed, and Rambam Medical Center in Israel.
“We have offered any medical assistance needed to the injured in the Lebanon explosion disaster,” Dr. Yitshak Kreiss, Director General of Sheba, told Army Radio. “We are obligated to help anyone who needs assistance, especially our neighbors. We are ready and prepared for any mission we will be given.”
Sheba treats Palestinian patients on a regular basis, and the hospital has also conducted training courses for Palestinian nurses from Gaza and the West Bank.
Several Beirut hospitals suffered catastrophic damage in the explosion. As Al Roum Hospital evacuated patients, the staff put out a public request for people to donate any spare generators to keep its electricity going. At Beirut’s St. George University Hospital, located in the Achrafieh neighborhood, there was major damage to the inside of the building, and all electricity was knocked out. As people with various injuries arrived at the hospital on foot, in cars, and via ambulance, medical teams were forced to treat them on the spot outside – on stretchers and in wheelchairs on the street.
Israel offered Lebanon any assistance it needed to cope. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he issued instructions to his national security adviser, Meir Ben Shabbat, to approach UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov, to ask how Israel can assist Lebanon. In response, Mladenov tweeted, “The region and the world must come together to help the people of Lebanon through this time of anguish.”
In a joint statement, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said, “Israel approached Lebanon through international defense and diplomatic channels to offer the Lebanese government medical humanitarian aid.”
President Reuven Rivlin sent out tweets in English, Arabic and Hebrew, adding, “We share the pain of the Lebanese people and sincerely reach out to offer our aid at this difficult time.”
It is not expected that Lebanon will accept Israel’s offer, despite the calamitous situation.