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In the early morning of the 24th of August, Rabbi Menachem Lazar, director of Chabad Piazza Bologna, Rome, was contacted by Rabbi Meshi Zahav, director of Zaka, an Israeli Rescue organization to offer help for the earthquake that had hit central Italy a few hours earlier.
Rabbi Lazar got in touch with the office of international relations in the Protezione Civile, thanks to the help of volounteer, Marco Abbina, the answer he got in the first hours was that at that moment there was no authorization for any external help untill there was a clear picture of the situation.
During the day, Giuseppe Calo, put Rabbi Lazar in touch with Naama Gorodisher of IsraAID, who also offered help and wanted a better understanding of the situation.
During that day and the next, Rabbi Lazar was interviewed by about ten israeli radio stations and help coordinate a team of the Israeli Channel 2 to reach the impacted areas.
In the evening, the president of the URBE volunteer corps, Mr. Marco Signorelli, sent a letter to the Israeli government, requesting for help from Zaka. The letter was forwarded to the Italian foreign ministry and shortly later an official answer came stating that “Italy will take care of emergency with its own resources”, at that point Zaka official, Mati Goldstein, told Rabbi Lazar that they won’t be sending help to respect the Italian request.
Never the less that evening, the IsraAID, 20 members strong team, arrived at the scenes of the calamity, without any official authorization they weren’t able to operate.
Rabbi Lazar tried to help in various ways also connecting them with the URBE volunteer corps, where Marco Abbina is a volunteer, the IsraAID team was able to connected with the local volunteers on friday when they started helping with the relief effort.