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Israel expected to set up field hospital in Ukraine as part of aid efforts

Health minister says installation to be manned by civilians; timeline not yet clear, but could be as early as next week

Medics perform CPR on a girl at the city hospital of Mariupol, who was injured during shelling in a residential area in eastern Ukraine, on February 27, 2022. The girl did not survive. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Illustrative: Medics perform CPR on a girl at the city hospital of Mariupol, who was injured during shelling in a residential area in eastern Ukraine, on February 27, 2022. The girl did not survive. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Israel is preparing to set up a field hospital in Ukraine as part of its humanitarian aid to the embattled country.

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz confirmed the plan on Thursday. In an interview with Kan Bet radio, he clarified that the hospital will be managed and manned exclusively by civilians.

“We do not intend to send soldiers to Ukraine,” Horowitz said. (In the past, field hospitals at disaster sites have sometimes been manned by troops from the Home Front Command.)

An unnamed source quoted by Kan said the hospital will be a joint operation by the foreign and health ministries.

Though Kan said the hospital will likely be set up next week, the source said that not all the details have been hammered out yet and that the timeline could change in light of developments in Ukraine.

Israel already sent a 100-ton humanitarian aid package this week. The aid included 17 tons of medical equipment and medicine; water purification systems intended to supply 200,000 people; emergency water supply kits to supply 100,000 people; winter tents to house 3,000; 15,000 blankets; 3,000 sleeping bags; and 2,700 winter coats.

Workers load packages of Israeli humanitarian aid to assist people caught up in the fighting in Ukraine, in Ben Gurion airport, on March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Israel has been turning down requests to send military or dual-use equipment to Ukraine, part of the tightrope it has tried to walk to balance its interests between Ukraine and Russia, which invaded its neighbor, a former Soviet state, last Thursday.

Russia maintains a military presence in Syria, Israel’s northern and bellicose neighbor. The need to balance security interests at home and policy abroad has produced a relatively restrained response from the Israeli government, which has tried to maintain good relations with both Moscow and Kyiv.

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