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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Portland-Ashkelon Sister City Association Event

On April 2, 2008, the Portland-Ashkelon Sister City Association held three events. Lea Malul, Public Affairs Director for the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, Israel spoke at all three events. At a breakfast meeting held at Temple Beth Israel at 8:30am, Lea told her audience that the hospital takes care of all the people from Ashkelon to Sderot and the surrounding areas besides Gaza residents. They are only 7 1/2 miles from the Gaza border. In the hospital, politics are left out. Barzilai had even helped to build a hospital in Gaza that Hamas terrorists have taken over. They get a lot of Fatah members at the hospital, and sometimes Hamas terrorists make it to their hospital for medical help. The hospital has a system of taking pictures of patients and having their information in all the hospitals so that relatives can find out what has happened to them and where they are located. The area's residents include the Ethiopian Jews who settled in the 1980's. Also in the area is the facility that distills water and a power station that serves not only Ashkelon and Gaza but 1/3 of Israel's electricity. There is also a nearby army base. On 9/11/07, the base was hit and 67 soldiers were injured by a Kassam rocket. These Kassam rockets, of which about 5,000 have fallen in the area around Sderot, consist only of a stolen pipe from Israel and fertilizer, but can kill and maim. Now Russian missiles are fired into Israel from Iran that the terrorists bring in through Egypt.The hospital staff seems to never be able to leave their station. The ER is made of from 80 to 100. When the alarm is sounded, all have only 15 seconds to run for cover. Even pets are allowed in bomb shelters nowdays. Their cafeteria becomes the ER area. All staff members must be on duty in these emergencies. A rocket recently fell 150 meters from the ER. The noise of falling rockets cause people to faint. They had to evacuate the hospital. For seven years people have been living under this stress. PTSD is the largest problem of the patients. It has the longest lasting effects. People become chronically ill. Security includes a wire fence around the hospital. A helipad is next to the parking lot. Detectors check everyone, even police cars and ambulances. No matter who you are, you must be checked.Lea said, "We don't believe in miracles. we depend on them!" They are planning the building underground of a larger much needed hospital and need donations for any aspect of the medical field.

Barzilai is a center where people all over the world come to gather medical information. One of their biggest discoveries is in the field of opiate dependency. Hopefully people will donate towards their cause.
Lea also spoke at a noon meeting of the association at City Hall. In the evening she spoke in SE Portland.

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