Israel and Mexico one year after the earthquake

Last September, we witnessed an example of strength displayed by the Mexican society and its government as they faced a great challenge. While confronting the hardships of another violent earthquake Mexico also experienced great solidarity from several friendly nations in the world, the State of Israel being one of them.

Given the solid ties between both countries, not surprisingly, Israel’s presence and support were immediate. This bond was strengthened even further by the first visit of Israel’s prime minister to Mexico.

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PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic journey took place between September 15-17 accompanied by an important delegation of businessmen and entrepreneurs. Though brief, this intense and successful visit enabled an important dialogue with President Enrique Peña Nieto and the Mexican government, while highlighting the common future of the two countries.

During his stay, three important cooperation agreements were signed and it was agreed to increase the bilateral relationship between both countries in areas of trade and commerce, cybersecurity and technology transfer. The visit was also an opportunity to appreciate the mutual support during the 65 years of diplomatic relations, as well as to thank the Jewish community of Mexico for their contribution to this remarkable relationship.

Just four days after this visit, on September 19, a strong earthquake shook Mexico. And exactly as Israel did 32 years earlier, after the great earthquake of 1985, Israel responded immediately by sending a special plane with a rescue team to Mexico City.
On this occasion, less than 48 hours after the earthquake, 71 engineers, rescuers and experts landed in Mexico to provide essential assistance and support in the complex task of saving lives from the rubble.

This humanitarian action conveyed once again the deep solidarity of the people of Israel with the people of Mexico in such a difficult time.

The Israeli rescue team was assigned to two main sites in Mexico City, where they worked hand in hand with local and international teams for seven days and nights. In addition, a group of twelve engineers was sent to review and evaluate more than 200 public and private buildings in the city to either rehabilitate them or evacuate them if needed.

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It is worth mentioning that the Israeli brigade was received with great affection and sympathy in Mexico; the Israeli soldiers were excited to work with their Mexican brothers and were very moved by the respect, appreciation, gratitude and love they received everywhere. Beyond the assistance provided, the Israeli experts managed to establish an important cooperation with the authorities of Mexico and share experiences and technologies that will serve both countries in the future.

Prior to this tragic event, an earlier strong earthquake took place on September 7, hitting mainly the state of Oaxaca. The Israeli Embassy, with the support of Mashav, Israel’s International Aid Agency, sent humanitarian aid consisting of 50 tons of basic food and necessities, mattresses, blankets and more to the affected population of this state.

During this whole period, Mexican society demonstrated its maturity and strength of character, expressed in an exemplary way with an unparalleled mobilization and participation. Faced with a natural disaster, the human and social response was overwhelming and both the Israeli team and I were all very impressed by it.

Israel is guided by an important Jewish value of tikkun olam and we act upon it, with the intention of making a difference in the world through solidarity and commitment to help those in need, regardless of race and religion, in difficult times, anywhere in the world.

This always gives us hope and faith to keep going, for as we believe and as is written in the Talmud: “He who saves a life, saves the entire world.”

We express our sincere condolences to the people of Mexico for the loss of lives from this earthquake, and at the same time would like to reiterate our commitment to continue working with this great and friendly country, shoulder to shoulder, through good times and bad times.

The author is the Ambassador of Israel to Mexico.

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