In the first January week of the new year, the 10th delegation ELNET has ever brought to Israel was made up by 22 European lawmakers from Parliaments of the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Cyprus, Lithuania, Croatia and Denmark, as well as two journalists from the UK. The pan-European delegation was led by Lord Peter Mendelson, a UK Labour politician. The main highlights of the solidarity mission were meetings with Members of the Knesset both from the coalition and the opposition, including with Isaac Herzog, the President of the State of Israel and Minister Gideon Saar.
On their first day of the mission to Israel, the delegation received multiple security briefings by Lt. Col. Res. Peter Lerner, IDF Spokesperson in Reserve, as well as Micky Rosenfeld, superintendent from the Israel Police International Cooperation Unit, who gave the participants a broad overview of the situation on ground from the perspectives of the first responders in the morning of October 7th.
The delegates also travelled to Sderot, a southern Israeli city that lies only one kilometre from the Gaza Strip and that has become a ghost town since the horrific Hamas terror attack. The delegation visited a Kibbutz in the South, Kfar Aza, as well as the “car cemetery” where the car wreckages, burnt-out shells, are stored and remain as testament to the horrors that took place.
This was followed by a meeting with representatives of civilian whose family members are still being held hostage in Gaza in the hands of Hamas. At the end of their first day the delegates were also briefed by ELNET-Israel CEO Dr. Emmanuel Navon on Israel’s political landscape in wake of the October 7th attacks.
While in Israel, their mission also included a visit of injured civilians and soldiers at the Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, where they heard first-hand accounts of narrowly escaping the deadly attack in the south and the long journey of physical and emotional recovery.
At the hospital’ helipad the delegates were briefed on the emergency response efforts by Ichilov’s emergency healthcare and showcased the invaluable insights of Dr. Eyal Hashavia, the Vice Chief of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery Unit, in charge of managing emergency landings and attending to the critically wounded.
The pan-European delegation’s solidarity mission ended with a dinner with Minister Gideon Saar, at which participant Lord Peter Mandelson discussed how the scale of depravity of Hamas astonished him. He also emphasized that this war differs from any other in Israel’s history as it resembles the first jihadi war – in opposition to a territorial war – and that Hamas not only poses an immense security threat to Israel, but to the whole western world.
Following the return home of the European delegates much press coverage of their trip and the truth what they witnessed was published in influential news outlets.
ELNET will continue to work hard to garner solidarity from European leaders and not only strengthen but also maintain and uphold relations between Israel and Europe.