By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich , www.JPost.com

Sderot – the target of thousands of Gazan missile attacks – finally has something to celebrate.

The beleaguered city recently dedicated a new, state-of-the-art Magen David Adom emergency medical station. The facility, which replaces a makeshift building more than 30 years old that had recently been condemned due to structural problems, was made possible by funds raised by the American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA).

The station is reportedly the first new construction in Sderot in the last five years. [See May ’08 Levitt Letter, pgs. 10-12]

Health Minister Ya’acov Ben-Yizri and Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal attended the opening alongside local Sderot paramedics and MDA friends from around the world.

The minister said the event was a cause for both celebration and sadness.

“We are excited that we can open such a grand and impressive facility, yet we are saddened by the knowledge that at least in the near future it will be called upon to treat the wounded from the surrounding areas,” he said. “When we see the work of these paramedics, we see examples of excellence. Despite the situation and the dangers, they always perform remarkably.”

Sderot’s mayor spoke of his city’s sincere appreciation for the goodwill that has been shown to them by the international community.

“While it may be that life is difficult here,” said Moyal, “the fact that people on the other side of the world care for us and support projects such as this new MDA station, this is what gives us strength to continue on, and I can promise you today that this city will never fall.”

On Monday evening, two Kassams were fired at the western Negev, causing no damage or injury.

The major gifts that enabled the station’s construction were made in memory of Judy Kaplan from Larchmont, New York, and Esther and Hyman Rapport of Cleveland, Ohio.

AFMDA president Daniel Allen saluted the donors who made the project possible and said the new facility would permanently enhance the already dedicated level of care MDA is able to provide Sderot and the surrounding areas.

“We have been able to take an old station desperately in need of repair and [replace it with] a new one that …the people of Sderot can be proud of and know is there for them should they ever need it. This town is a true symbol of courage and conviction.

“We, as American Jews, feel it is important to say that when the people of Sderot are under attack, we too feel their pain.”

The new station has a large ambulance bay area with a dispatch facility, offices and multiple rooms for crews to rest during shifts. The building was constructed according to new standards that make much of it protected against rocket attacks, allowing crews to easily move to safety when hearing the alert siren.

In 2007, AFMDA raised over $27 million to benefit MDA and the people of Israel, saving lives through the donation of ambulances and bloodmobiles, purchasing equipment and supplies and building new MDA stations.


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