Port-au-Prince – After treating more than 1,000 injured people and performing hundreds of surgeries, the Israeli search-and-rescue delegation bid farewell to Haiti on Tuesday. In a military ceremony held at the field hospital in Port-au-Prince, the Israeli flag was lowered and handed over as a sign of thanks to the commander of the Colombian team that collaborated with the crew from Israel.
"We came here a short time after the earthquake that shocked this island. We came to help, to save lives, to lend a hand. However, above all else, we came to give hope," said Dr. Col. Itzik Kreis, who commanded the hospital.
Dr. Kreis addressed the members of his crew in his speech: "There are no other nations with the strength, the willingness, the dedication, to help in this way. A small county on the other side of the globe that knew to send a large and professional hospital at the right time."
More than 1,000 patients treated. The Israeli hospital (Photo: Noam Barkan)
"The people of Haiti are a special nation," said Kreis. "Even in moments of terrible disaster, they knew how to comport themselves nobly out of mutual respect and respect for those who came to help them. I am glad we were given the privilege of helping this nation and wish them success in reaching a brighter future together with the nations of the world."
The medical team from Israel released its last patients before the ceremony. Up until it closed, the hospital treated 1,111 residents of Haiti, performed 13 regular births and three Caesarian sections, and did 314 other surgeries.
"We saw you in the hardest moments fighting for the right to save life," added Dr. Kreis at the ceremony. "You brought life to the world. You were awarded with the smile of a baby. You were awarded with the smile of a child who simply received a toy. You were awarded with a prayer dance of an indebted mother.
"We did here field medicine at its best. We did not compromise. We made nice diagnoses; we improvised; we did not compromise. We dealt with complex dilemmas of disaster medicine."
The field hospital commanded emphasized the collaboration with other te4ams. "The Home Front Command, the Prime Minister's Office, and other medical professionals helped us focus our efforts on the patients," he said.
The Colombian colonel concluded his speech in Hebrew: "This story we will tell to our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A big thanks to the people of Israel."
At the end of the military ceremony, after the anthem was sung, the Colombian team handed over their flag to Dr. Kreis and his team in a rare symbolic gesture. The Israeli delegation also gave the Israeli flag to the Colombian commander.