Yulia Karra
September 10, 2023, Updated September 11, 2023

Israeli humanitarian aid groups SmartAID, IsraAID, United Hatzalah and NATAN Worldwide Disaster Relief have dispatched teams to Morocco to help the locals in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake that rocked the African country over the weekend. The earthquake is the strongest to hit Morocco in over 120 years.

Another two teams are on the way in a joint effort of the Israel Defense Forces, Israel Ministry of Health and Magen David Adom nationwide emergency response network. The plan is to open a field hospital and assist in search and rescue.

The magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck shortly after 11 Friday night in central Marrakech and the surrounding communities. The quake forced locals to rush outside from their homes as many buildings crumbled around them.

The death toll so far stands at more than 2,000 people, but is expected to rise. Another 2,000 have been injured, some critically.

Israeli aid groups assist Morocco in quake aftermath
Earthquake devastation in Morocco. Photo courtesy of NATAN Worldwide Disaster Relief

A spokesperson for SmartAID said its 20-member search-and-rescue team was heading to Marrakech and would also distribute clean water, solar power energy units, and telecommunications systems within the next couple of days as a separate cargo.

The lighting solutions not only help the locals who lost their homes, but also ensure that first responders have the necessary power to deliver medical aid, establish shelters, and continue search-and-rescue operations after sunset. 

“Marrakech’s hospitals are overwhelmed, grappling with a massive influx of injured individuals. We stand in solidarity with Morocco, and our team is prepared to provide critical aid, rescue operations, and support during this challenging time,” said Shachar Zahavi, founding director of SmartAID.

Dov Maisel, Vice President of Operations for United Hatzalah, said the voluntary first-responder organization sent an initial team to meet with local government agencies and community leaders to assess needs and determine how the Israelis can help. Some UH volunteers were already in Morocco on vacation and are assisting with these efforts.

United Hatzalah members will act as a force multiplier working together with local agencies and rescue efforts that are already ongoing. They are also making preparations for a larger team to arrive should that be deemed necessary. Our focus is on providing emergency medical care and assisting in rescue efforts wherever we are needed the most,” said Maisel. 

IsraAID said its Emergency Response Team will travel to the areas affected the most by the earthquake to partner with local humanitarian groups. It will also try to organize relief efforts for the local Jewish community, with whom IsraAID is in close contact. 

IsraAID teams responded to deadly quakes in Turkey in February 2023, Haiti in 2021 and 2010, Indonesia in 2018, Nepal in 2015, Japan in 2011, and more.

IsraAID CEO Yotam Polizer said: “Our hearts go out to the communities in Morocco who have lost their homes and loved ones in this earthquake.

“We will work to provide immediate, essential aid in the wake of this disaster. Our team will be on the ground in the affected area, assessing the situation to see how we can best stand by these communities and promote resilience on the long road to recovery.”

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