Israel Dispatches Rescue Team to Haiti

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered the Defense Ministry, Foreign Ministry and Public Security Ministry to provide extensive humanitarian aid to Haiti following the powerful earthquake that struck on Tuesday afternoon.

Three Israelis are among the missing, according to a statement by the Foreign Ministry.

"The families of the three are in contact with the Foreign Ministry, and we are updating them on any information we have," the statement read.

Meanwhile, following early morning meetings on Wednesday, Israel dispatched a team of engineering, medical, logistic and emergency rescue personnel who will begin rescue work and assess more specific needs.

In addition, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi appointed Brig.-Gen. Shalom Ben Arieh, commander of the Israel Defense Forces' National Rescue Unit, to lead another team of paramedics, EMTs and doctors.

"From past experience, we know that in the first 24 to 36 hours, survivors can be traced. We will depart as soon as we receive our permits," Ben Arieh said.

IsraAID is also sending a search-and-rescue team, which includes emergency medical personnel.

Meanwhile, Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch has asked Israel Police to organize a forensic team to help identify the bodies of victims. The police will also be prepared to assist Haitian authorities in maintaining order in the aftermath of the quake should they request help.

The quake, which measured 7.0 on the Richter scale, leveled hundreds of buildings, including the National Palace and local U.N. headquarters.

The number of dead and injured has yet to be estimated, but is expected to number in the thousands. It is the worst earthquake to strike Haiti in 200 years.

A five-story building, which served as U.N. headquarters, collapsed, many of its personnel missing.

Israeli Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Amos Radian, will meet up with rescue teams to help with logistics.

The Dominican Republic shares a border with Haiti on the island of Hispaniola.

While some shaking was felt in the Dominican Republic, no one was injured and there was no significant damage.

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YNet news and Haaretz contributed to this report.

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