By Erin Viner
“We are here to be the star that lights the path of refugees in need of medical care. We will extend a helping hand to them, as has always been the State of Israel’s custom. I feel extremely privileged to be a part of this fantastic group,” said Prof. David (Dudu) Dagan, who is heading of the delegation from Israel’s Ministry of Health in an address to members of the medical delegation.
The “Shining Star” hospital was established by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Ministry of Health and Sheba Medical Center with the assistance of the entire Israeli healthcare system and the support of Schusterman Foundation, which donates to national and social projects in Israel and the JDC.
The ₪21 million shekel ($6.4 million or €5.83 million) field hospital is equipped to meet the medical needs for dozens of patients on a daily basis. It is named in tribute of former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, who was born in Ukraine and the founder of the MFA’s Mashav national aid agency for International Development Cooperation.
“The mission of this hospital is to make clear to the Ukrainian people that they are not alone in the chaos that has emerged,” said Shining Star Director Dr. Yoel Har-Even of the Sheba Medical Center.
The launch ceremony was also attended by representatives of the Ukrainian government, the Deputy Minister of Health, the Governor of the Lviv district and Mayor of Mostyska, the Chargé d’Affaires of the Israeli Embassy in Ukraine and the Director of Mashav’s project department.
“The Embassy of Israel in Ukraine will continue to assist the Ukrainian people during these difficult times with the hope of a speedy peaceful solution,” said the Israeli Embassy in Ukraine’s Deputy Ambassador and Chargé d’Affaires Yoav Bistrizky.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has been trying to mediate an end to the conflict since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February.
During the send-off ceremony for the Israeli aid delegation at the Ben Gurion International Airport yesterday, Prime Minister Bennett emphasized that, “Israel has been extending its hand to render assistance in the crisis in Ukraine for several weeks now, from the very first moment – in various ways. We are managing this unfortunate crisis with sensitivity, generosity and responsibility, while maintaining a balance between the various factors – and they are complex. From the very first days, we dispatched assistance planes with many tons of medical equipment, medicine and other things.”
“The people of Israel and the Israeli public can be proud of the contribution and the assistance of the State of Israel to the citizens of Ukraine,” he said, adding that, “there are not many countries acting on such a scale.”
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said, “We’re sending with this field hospital not only the best medical staff in the world, but also our hearts, our support, and our empathy. This is a brutal and unnecessary war, and it needs to stop.”
“We’re doing this for Ukrainian children, but our children also must know that the State of Israel doesn’t stand aside. Where there is suffering and fear, we will extend a comforting hand and do everything to help,” added Lapid, who also serves as Israel’s Alternate Premier.
The Israeli Foreign Minister traveled to East Europe last week for talks about the Ukrainian refugee crisis with the leaders on Romania and Slovakia, while also inspecting the Siret border crossing between Ukraine and Romania.