(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
On Sunday, May 25, 2008, an Israeli plane took off for the city of Chengdu with humanitarian aid for victims of the earthquake that struck the Sichuan province in southwestern China last week. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which coordinated the aid effort, collected more than one and a half million dollars - a donation of one million dollars by Israel Corporation and its subsidiaries, and half a million by Jewish philanthropists Diane and Gilford Glazer, through the United Israel Appeal.
The plane carried about 90 tons of medicines and medical equipment, water purification kits, generators, tents, sleeping bags, and clothing intended for the earthquake survivors.
Israeli plane with aid for victims of China earthquake arrives in Chengdu:
"To our friends in Sichuan, with love from Israel"
The aid comes in addition to money transferred by the Israeli embassy in Beijing to the Chinese Red Cross at the beginning of last week, to be used for immediate evacuations, and a shipment of sleeping bags and blankets that arrived in China on Thursday, 22 May.
Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni opened a special ceremony at 8 am Sunday morning at Ben Gurion International Airport at which the aid shipment was symbolically presented to the Chinese ambassador to Israel. Representatives from the Israel Corporation, the United Israel Appeal and the Director General of the Council for the Promotion of Israeli-Chinese Relations, Ms. Tamara Yaron, participated as well.
At the ceremony, FM Livni said, "What Israel is doing this morning is the minimum that we can do to express the warm relations between Israel and China. As soon as the disaster occurred, we turned to the Chinese and asked what we could do. In coordination with them, we are sending a plane with aid this morning, which is the least that we can do. We concentrated on items essential to evacuation and rescue operations. Israel's willingness to help out wherever a disaster occurs is an expression of the humanitarian side of Israel's relations with the rest of the states in the world.
We would like to thank the Israel Corporation and the United Israel Appeal."
Chinese Ambassador Zhao warmly thanked Minister Livni and the donors' representatives and said that the aid shipment included not only packages but also the sincere feelings of the Israeli people.
The Chairman of UIA, Ambassador Avi Pozner, said that, together with its wide-spread activities in the fields of aliyah (immigration), absorption and Jewish continuity, the United Israel Appeal strived to convey a universal message based on the Jewish ideal of "tikun olam" (literally "fixing the world" - actively working to improve the world) and, in this difficult hour, the UIA extends its hand to its brothers, the suffering Chinese people.
Alon Raveh, Deputy CEO in charge of business development at Israel Corporation, said at the ceremony, "When people are in a situation of pain and suffering, they must be helped, no matter where you are in the world. This is the philosophy of our Chairman, Mr. Idan Ofer."
Israel President Peres meets with Chinese Ambassador Zhao and signs book of condolences
* * *
Jerusalem, 12 May, 2008
Mr. Yang Jiechi
Minister of Foreign Affairs
The People's Republic of China
Dear Minister Yang,
I was distressed to learn of the massive earthquake which hit China this morning.
Our hearts go out to the families of the victims and we pray for the speedy recovery of all the survivers.
The thoughts of the people of Israel are with China at this difficult time.
Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs