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Israel builds houses for 39 families that lost homes in Guatemala volcano blast

Ambassador hands over deeds to new residents of ‘Jerusalem Capital of Israel Street,’ built for those whose houses were destroyed in deadly 2018 Fuego eruption

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Ceremony after the Israeli Embassy in Guatemala completed the Guatelinda project of homes for families that lost their homes in the 2018 Fuego volcano disaster, January 31, 2020 (Courtesy)
Ceremony after the Israeli Embassy in Guatemala completed the Guatelinda project of homes for families that lost their homes in the 2018 Fuego volcano disaster, January 31, 2020 (Courtesy)

Israel’s embassy in Guatemala on Sunday finished its Guatelinda housing project in the town of Escuintla for families that lost homes in the 2018 Fuego volcano eruption.

The blast killed more than 190 people in the Central American country.

Matty Cohen, Israel’s ambassador to Guatemala and Honduras, personally handed over the deeds to all 39 families who received new homes.

“The State of Israel promised, and we are happy,” said Cohen. “Israel will always continue to assist our friend and ally Guatemala.”

In this image taken with a long exposure, the Volcan de Fuego, or Volcano of Fire, spews hot molten lava from its crater in Antigua, Guatemala, Nov. 19, 2018 (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

The homes sit on “Jerusalem Capital of Israel Street,” the 19th street in Guatemala with that name, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Guatemala moved its embassy to Jerusalem in May 2018, two days after the US ceremoniously opened its own mission in the city.

As of today, the US and Guatemala are the only countries that operate embassies in Jerusalem, though Kosovo is slated to become the third after it establishes diplomatic relations with Israel Monday.

Recent years have seen improved ties between Israel and some Latin American countries, including Guatemala, Honduras and Paraguay.

Evangelical Christians, a group with strong religious attachments to Israel, make up some 40 percent of Guatemala’s population, which makes it proportionately one of the largest Evangelical populations in Latin America.

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