Good News Friday

Another difficult week has passed by, so thank goodness it’s Friday and time for another Good News Friday post.

Opening Israel’s field hospital in Nepal

We’ll start with Israel’s fantastic disaster relief efforts in Nepal.  Israel sent one of the largest aid delegations in the world to Nepal, second only to India’s – and they are a much bigger country and right next door, as opposed to tiny Israel many thousands of miles away.

Over 250 doctors and rescue personnel were part of an IDF delegation that landed Tuesday in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, in the wake of Saturday’s magnitude-7.8 earthquake that devastated large swaths of the mountainous country, killing at least 5,000 and leaving some 8,000 wounded and tens of thousands seeking shelter and food.

IDF volunteers setting up the Israeli field hospital in Nepal

The Israeli group set up a field hospital with 60 beds that began operations on Wednesday in coordination with the local army hospital.

Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and the Nepalese Army’s chief of staff visited the field hospital to attend its opening ceremony.

CNN graphic showing Israel’s aid mission to Nepal one of the largest in the world

Israel’s aid convoy to the quake-stricken nation is the largest ever sent by the IDF overseas. Israel has deployed field hospitals to Haiti, the Philippines and Japan in recent years following natural disasters.

According to figures reported by CNN, Israel’s total official aid delegation, not counting several private aid groups, numbers 260 people, more than all the other aid efforts examined by CNN combined. The next-largest delegation, from the United Kingdom, numbers 68 people, followed by China’s 62, the US’s 54 and South Korea’s 40. Taiwan sent 20 personnel, Italy 15 and France 11.

Despite Israel’s monetary aid not matching up to the rest of the world, we can be justly very proud of our country, especially its efforts to rescue its own citizens:

Some 2,000 Israelis were in Nepal when the quake struck Saturday. The vast majority have been rescued, with the remaining number estimated in the dozens and just one Israeli unaccounted for. Four planes were sent to airlift Israelis out, along with helicopters and jeeps rented for the effort, while a combination of IDF, insurance company-sponsored rescue teams and various volunteer groups helped reach nearly all the Israelis stranded in remote parts of the mountainous country.

Unfortunately, the one missing Israeli, Or Asraf, has still not been located. Please pray for the welfare and safety of Or ben Irit.

The local people of Nepal are extremely grateful to Israel for its rescue efforts. Watch this heart-warming video of a Hebrew-speaking Nepalese thanking the Israeli volunteers for saving his mother:

“Israel is a country like my father, it takes care of me and loves me, the people are all good,” he said in fluent Hebrew.

Recalling the massive earthquake last Saturday, he said, “I thought we’re all dead…” After hearing an Israeli team was being sent to help, he said, “I felt ‘Israel is helping us, we’ll be okay then,’ that’s how I feel…I came here today very happy, and my mother’s leg is okay,” the man added. “I can say to all of the IDF, all of the people here who came to help, thank you very much.”

Coming out of the terrible disaster that has struck the region, these words bring a lift to one’s heart. May Hashem help the people of Nepal and surrounding countries to recover and rebuild speedily.

Here are some pictures of the IDF rescue team’s efforts:

You can follow the Israeli aid and rescue efforts on Twitter.

From one extreme to the other, we now move from helping in natural disasters to combating deliberate man-made ones, i.e. anti-terrorism developments. A new invention by Israeli university students could be the solution to the Hamas and Hezbollah terror tunnels which almost brought disaster upon us last summer, and which Hezbollah are eagerly copying. Watch this video of the anti-tunnels robot:


Kol hakavod to Gabi Yaniv and Maayan Harel for their ingenuity, inventiveness and inspiration. Let’s hope the IDF make good use of this ingenious device.

Since we’re on the subject of technology, here is something completely different: an Israeli app that will help farmers around the world:

Pickapp was developed by Yuval Reich of Moshav Paran, located in the desert between the Dead and Red Seas.

A connoisseur of productivity, Reich was impressed by the dramatic impact of individual milk measuring on dairy farms’ production. He also noticed that farmers in Paran who spent the day in the field monitoring their workers got a lot more out of them. “What can be measured can be managed” became Yuval’s motto and he began thinking about how to combat fluctuations of productivity during the pepper-picking season. As the money time of every fresh food producer, efficiency is crucial.

Two other Paran farmers – Yoram Gommershtadt and Ori Ganot – joined forces with Yuval to develop a means of monitoring workers in agriculture. …

The three farmers then turned to Ilan Aisic – a software expert with a background in creating complex info systems. His well-established company, Pointer, cooperated with the farmers to create a high-tech software system able to achieve diversity of functions and show specific data in real time.

Pickapp today combines location platforms with agro-technics to build a revolutionary map telling the farmer everything he needs to know about worker productivity in the field.

What an ingenious idea! Watch this video to see how it works:

Staying with the agritech business, in the upcoming Expo Milano, Israel will be showcasing its agriculture at its Expo pavilion with a “living green-wall“:

Israel will be building a large pavilion at the upcoming world expo, Expo Milano, to be held in Italy in May 2015, to showcase forward-thinking Israeli agriculture technology. The local Israeli company GreenWall, which specializes in vertical gardening, will be constructing a 1,000-square-meter living wall on which corn, rice and wheat are growing.
The wall is being incubated and hatched in Israel and will be shipped to Milan in time for the expo, says company CEO Guy Barness.
Made from living plants, study construction materials and high-tech sensors, the wall will frame the Israeli pavilion of agro-tech innovation. These are Israeli companies that have been helping Israel deal with its own limitations of arable land, water and fuel. But also these are companies that have expanded outside of Israel’s horizons to feed Africa and the developed world.

Living green wall

While the GreenWall vertical garden seems to be a low-tech creation, it comes with thoughtful technologies – solutions that consider how to control water and the local environment of plants with roots that need to seemingly defy gravity. 
Working with local partners like Netafim​ and Galcon (, “we’ve developed a lot of technology for our GreenWall from unique fertilizers to unique pots, drippers, design and how to control the water,” says Barness.
Green walls buffer buildings from noise and from extreme heat or cold — about 10 degrees Celcius in either direction. In addition, they suck up local pollution, cleaning the air and acting as a carbon sink for greenhouse gas.
Barness believes that one day soon green walls and vertical gardens in cities will have an important role in supplementing the world’s food production. If produce can be grown in cities on real estate that is not currently used, people will be able to eat more locally, freshly and with fewer food transportation miles, says Barness.
And it’s also sustainable agriculture.
“We develop edible walls that you can replace as you eat them,” Barness points out.


Once again Israel is way ahead of the world in its agritech as much as its hi-tech. Kol hakavod to Guy Barness and his team on their developments.

And with all this uplifting and interesting news I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!

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10 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. 18mitzvot says:

    Great job collecting all these stories. Shabbat Shalom to you, too.

    • anneinpt says:

      Thank you. Glad you like it. I enjoy writing these posts so much more than the regular “bad news” posts. Shabbat shalom to you too!

  2. Reality says:

    Such clever ideas.I love the living green wall-sure makes trailing ivy look better.We could have our own ones at home

  3. Pete says:

    About the earthquake relief and the field hospital in Nepal …


    Pete, USA

    • Aridog says:

      Al Jaazera-America, of all outlets no less, did a good piece on the Israelis’ extensive help in Nepal. So others talk, the Israelis walk…that’s the message. Why do’t more MSM give Israel their credit due? If I am ever in a disaster zone, please let me see the Magen David emblems first.

      • anneinpt says:

        Chances are that if G-d forbid you were in a disaster like that, the Red Magen David is indeed what you would see first.

        I get so fed up of Israel’s assistance being minimized, as if they can’t allow anything good to be spoken about Israel. It’s the opposite of the “if you can’t say anything good don’t say anything at all” approach.

  4. Brian Goldfarb says:

    While on our way yesterday (sorry, Anne, I know it was Saturday) to Stratford-upon-Avon and Shakespeare, as the driver of the car said (all of us jewish and Zionists), “one of the smallest countries in the world, and look what they do”.

    As the scriptures say “remember the stranger” and, elsewhere “remember the stranger within your gates”.

    The Israelis surely do. 24 hours after arriving (and within 48 hours of the ‘quake), a fully equipped field hospital up, running, saving lives and delivering new ones.

    Why can’t other, bigger and richer, countries react as quickly?

    • anneinpt says:

      Perhaps our very small size plays a positive role here? i.e. it’s easier to mobilize a small concentrated force rather than a big clumsy bureaucracy. Also, Israel has so much experience in reacting to emergencies in a very short time in a most efficient manner – a blessing in disguise for everyone in the end through our own bitter experience – it translates into life-saving readiness and inventiveness in times of emergency for everyone else.

      In Haiti too, Israel had the first and biggest field hospital operating while the rest of the world were still fumbling about getting their act together.

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