April 6, 1999
An Israel Defense Forces medical mission flies to Macedonia (now North Macedonia) to care for refugees from sectarian violence in Kosovo. The 70-person mission includes 12 physicians of various specialties, most of whom are veterans of other relief operations.
The mission leaves Israel four days after the Israeli Foreign Ministry sent an emergency relief shipment of medicine, medical equipment, jackets and tents for Kosovo refugees.
Operating in a refugee camp, the medical mission establishes an emergency room capable of treating several hundred patients per day and a field hospital that can provide basic trauma, orthopedic and gynecological surgeries. The hospital treats more than 1,560 people over 16 days and refers some patients to primary clinics established in and around the camp.
Israel made the provision of humanitarian aid to those in need its official policy in 1958 when it created the Foreign Ministry’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, MASHAV. MASHAV helps other nations solve hunger, disease and poverty with technical training and technology transfers. Since 1959, the agency has sent eye doctors to developing nations to provide treatments that otherwise are often unavailable.
Israel often is one of the first governments to send aid and emergency teams to countries experiencing disasters, from wars to earthquakes. Israel’s humanitarian nongovernmental organizations include IsraAID, Israeli Flying Aid and Save a Child’s Heart.