Palestinian Civil Defense Team Joins Efforts in Flood-Hit Libya
In the aftermath of devastating floods that struck Libya, the Palestinian Civil Defense Service, operating under the Palestinian Authority, announced its assistance in the humanitarian effort. The 37-member team, which includes search-and-rescue experts and neurosurgeons, joined other Arab countries and the international community in providing aid.
The Political Motivation
While cynics argue that political and image considerations motivated the Palestinian contribution, it is important to recognize the obligation that anyone in a position to provide assistance has. Disasters do not recognize countries, borders, or national identities, and self-interest should motivate parties to offer aid, as they might face future crises where they are the ones in need.
A Missed Opportunity
Ironically, Libya decided not to accept Israeli assistance, unlike its neighbor Morocco, where Israel dispatched teams from the Israel Defense Forces, Magen David Adom, United Hatzalah, and IsraAID after an earthquake hit on September 8th. Thousands have died and many more are missing or destitute due to structural and environmentally influenced catastrophes. The Middle East, however, remains resistant to cooperation with Israel, despite the fact that disaster-stricken individuals would not refuse assistance regardless of its origin.
- Libya rejects Israeli assistance in dealing with floods
- Morocco accepts aid from Israel after an earthquake
- Thousands die in North Africa due to structural and environmental disasters
The Benefit of Israeli Expertise
Although Israel’s involvement in Libya is indirect through the Palestinian emergency team, it is worth noting that the Palestinian Civil Defense Service has benefited from Israeli training and expertise through the Oslo Accords. Al-Izza, spokesperson for the Civil Defense Service, has emphasized the logic behind this cooperation, stating that it is in the interest of Palestinians to participate in exercises and joint efforts with Israel due to their geographic proximity and interconnectedness.
Barriers to Cooperation
Joint exercises between Palestinian, Jordanian, and Israeli teams have previously taken place, such as a fire-fighting exercise funded by the European Union. However, these cooperative efforts have received backlash from Palestinian hardliners and the BDS movement, which views any form of collaboration with Israel as unacceptable normalization.
- Palestinian, Jordanian, and Israeli teams participate in fire-fighting exercise
- BDS movement opposes normalization and joint exercises
The Need for Practical Cooperation
While political conflicts should not be ignored, cooperation on specific challenges, especially in responding to natural disasters, is essential. The proposal suggests an “exemption clause” where political considerations are set aside to ensure regional nations provide aid in times of crisis. This idea of humanitarian assistance should not be connected to regional politics or objectives but rather focus solely on providing immediate help to those affected.
The Way Forward
It is important for regional countries, including Israel, to agree on the exemption clause when it comes to providing aid during natural disasters. The support for this proposal could come from international bodies such as the European Union, the United States, and the United Nations. The implementation of this clause should be cautious to avoid exploitation for political goals and must solely aim to provide the best and fastest assistance to the victims of natural disasters.
By promoting initiatives like “Israelis Without Borders,” it is possible to advocate for regional cooperation in responding to environmental disasters, putting aside political differences in the interest of saving lives.