According to an article in today's Hebrew language daily, Yedioth Ahronot, New Zealand authorities have refused to allow Israeli rescue units into New Zealand to help search for missing Israeli tourists. Shortly after last week's earthquake in Christchurch, Israel offered to provide a variety of assistance to New Zealand, including highly specialized, experienced search and rescue units that could help locate trapped or missing people. New Zealand turned down the offer.
The article notes that search and rescue units from other countries were permitted but not from Israel. It highlights the lack of any clear explanation for this refusal. The Israeli rescue teams had been provided with detailed informaton about the likely locations of a number of missing Israelis and felt that they had a chance to provide a last bit of hope for the families of those who were missing.
Later today, the online news site YNet reported that New Zealand had now agreed to accept Israeli assistance in the form of sanitation, water purification and portable facilities - reversing its earlier refusals of any Israeli aid. However, there was no suggestion that New Zealand had changed its position on allowing the search and rescue teams.
A number of Israelis who were known to be in the vicinity of the earthquake remain missing. It would be truly unfortunate if lives were lost as a result of an ill conceived political decision.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Thursday, February 3, 2011
In Toronto - it's been about -10 C - perfect ice hockey weather. Here in Israel - at the height of winter (Feb 3, 2011) - it's about 15C - that's above 0. But for some desperate hockey lovers - that's still perfect weather for driving to Metulla to play a 1 1/2 hour pick up game of ice hockey.
It was raining heavily tonight - and most of the players had to travel between 2 and 3 hours each way - to the one ice hockey arena in all of Israel - right up at the border between Israel and Lebanon - at the Canada Centre. But we still had 30 skaters and 2 goalies - and everyone had lots of fun.
As I've written before, the Israel Recreational Ice Hockey Association (IRHA) runs a game every second week - throughout the year. A mish mash of ex-patriot Canadians, Americans, Russians and homegrown Israeli hockey players - ranging in age from 12 to 75ish - drive up to Metulla to play their favourite game.
From Ra'anana (near the centre of the country), the drive is 178 km. Stretches of that are high speed toll highways - but other parts are much slower roads. We car pooled with two other players. We are now able to prove that you can squeeze four fully loaded hockey bags into the trunk of a Toyota Corolla - albeit with quite a bit of pushing before you slam the trunk closed...
The teams are divided each week quite fairly by the organizers - and there are three lines of players - each at different skill levels. Though some of the players are very competitive - and the goalies are terrific (one of them, a 12 year old immigrant from the U.S.) - the main idea is to get out on the ice and have a good time playing non-contact hockey (mostly).
A great addition tonight was having a young woman play - which made this now a co-ed game. She was put on the 3rd line - but probably deserved to be on the 2nd, considering her high skill level.
My son kept his 3 game goal scoring streak going - and was quite happy about that. I'm just happy to say that I was able to play and have fun - I won't say much more about my skill level...
After the game - the players quickly gathered just outside the Canada centre for a short Ma'ariv service. Most of us then headed over to Shlomi's Baguette - a shawarma place in downtown Kiryat Shmona - about 9 km south of Metulla.
The big highlight of the season - is that the IRHA is running a tournament in late February - with recreational players from all over the world coming to Israel to play hockey and then tour the country. It's a four day tournament - Feb 21 to 25 - with players signed up to come from Canada, the U.S., various European countries and a team of native Israelis. Last year, Canadian hockey hero Paul Henderson attended at the tournament and dropped the puck at the final game.
For anyone planning to be in Israel - any time of the year - you can bring your hockey equipment and contact the IRHA to participate in one of the games. Or you might even be able to borrow a full set of equipment from the IRHA - if it was too difficult to bring your stuff.
For More information - visit http://www.israelhockeyassociation.org/irha/node/1