Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro thanked the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) for sending a delegation of divers, engineers and medical experts, to aid in the search for survivors following the collapse of a dam that killed at least 99 people and left hundreds missing last week.
“The brave Israeli troops, sent by the Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu, today ended their mission in Brazil. Thank you, on behalf of the Brazilian people, for your services,” Bolsonaro wrote on his Twitter account.
As bravas tropas israelenses, cedidas pelo Primeiro Ministro @netanyahu, encerram hoje a missão no Brasil. Agradeço, em nome do povo brasileiro, ao Estado de Israel pelos serviços prestados em Brumadinho-MG em parceria com nossos Guerreiros das Forças Armadas e Bombeiros.
— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@jairbolsonaro) January 31, 2019
The Israeli delegation was led by Col. (res) Golan Vach, the commander of Israel’s national search and rescue unit, and comprised approximately 130 soldiers and officers – both on active duty and reservists. The search and rescue personnel included the IDF’s underwater missions unit.
The collapsed dam used to store byproducts of an iron ore mining operation owned by Vale SA, burst. Located in southeastern Brazil, the region has a thriving mining industry. Initial rescue operations saved more than 200 people but authorities feared that almost 300 additional people were unaccounted for.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bolsonaro were in frequent contact during the rescue operation.
Israel is a leader in disaster relief, sending teams of rescue workers and medical teams all over the world. Brazil’s new president, sometimes referred to as the Brazilian Trump because of his right-wing views, is a close ally of Israel and has promised to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem in the near future. Netanyahu honored him by attending the inauguration in Brazil in early January.