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November 16, 2015 2:57 pm

Israeli Rescue Organization Conducts Emergency Drills for Belgium’s Jewish Community

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

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Zaka led a two-day emergency drill in Belgium for the country's Jewish community. Photo: ZAKA.

Zaka led a two-day emergency drill in Belgium for the country’s Jewish community. Photo: ZAKA.

ZAKA, a volunteer Israeli “Identification, Extraction and Rescue” organization, began a two-day drill in Belgium on Sunday to train the country’s Jewish community on how to respond in emergency situations.

The drill addressed issues related to mass-casualty incidents, simultaneous terror attacks at multiple sites, dealing with victims, establishing a central morgue and preliminary screening and identification, ZAKA said in a press release. The training also involved cooperation with local emergency and rescue forces following an incident. The drill will close with several different scenarios taking place in various buildings within Belgium’s Jewish quarter.

The drill was organized in cooperation with ZAKA’s Belgium branch and local Jewish community prior to Friday’s Paris attacks, which left at least 132 people dead and more than 350 wounded. ZAKA International Rescue Unit Director Mati Goldstein, who traveled to Belgium from Jerusalem to lead the training, said the drills take on a greater importance in light of the recent events in France.

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“The levels of stress in the air after the terror attacks in Paris was palpable, especially due to the fact that the terrorists’ base of operations was in Belgium,” he said. “There is increased police and security force presence on the streets and in places that are full of people. As a result, the participation in the drills and exercises was very high, as was the level of cooperation with the local community.”

ZAKA Chairman and founder Yehuda Meshi-Zahav said the world is facing an increase in the levels of international terror. He said the emergency service team invests a significant amount of its financial and human resources in maintaining “high levels of readiness” among Jewish communities around the world, and in “ensuring that they have the knowledge and tools to deal with emergency situations as and when they happen in their region.”

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