An Israel Police delegation to Haiti returned Sunday after three months in the small disaster-torn country. The delegation members, 14 Special Patrol Unit officers, assisted mainly in maintaining public order under Italian auspices at the UN base.
Haiti was hit by a devastating earthquake at the beginning of the year, which led to more than 200,000 deaths and many thousands of injured. Then, just two months ago, a cholera epidemic broke out, leaving some 1,000 people dead.
The head of the delegation, Chief Superintendent Meir Namir, said during a ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport that the operation reflects the high morality of Israeli society.
"The delegation went with a sense of mission, and was accompanied throughout by the values of the people," Namir said. "It reflects the high morality of Israeli society, which I felt all the time. What I understood from there was that a state is not to be taken for granted. I can't pretend I wasn’t worried, but I am happy and very proud that we have returned hale and healthy."
The delegation at the airport Sunday (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
"On the way back to Israel, I looked at the airplane, at the blue flag of our State with its Magen David, and I can say I am happy to return, I love this State, I love the citizens here, and I love my comrades in the police force," Namir added.
Deputy Police Chief Ilan Franco also spoke at the ceremony, which was attended by the families of the delegation members. "Whoever remembers the ceremony held at terminal one when the delegation left cannot help being moved today," he said. "We followed your activities each day, week after week. You have brought much honor to Israel Police and the State of Israel."
The delegation operated in Haiti in special uniforms bearing the Israeli and UN flags, alongside the Italian delegation, which numbered 120 members.
"The police officers slept with the Italian task force, ate with them, and worked with them for three months," said Police Major Diane Eldad-Sheetrit, head of the Israel Police's International Relations Unit. "The preparations for the delegation to Haiti lasted some six months and included mental preparations and careful selection," she said, adding that the delegation had brought honor to Israel "whose values are priceless, especially in these times."
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