In the days after the devastating earthquake struck Mexico, the Israel deployed a delegation of 71 soldiers and officers from the IDF’s Home Front Command to help the Mexican people and save as many lives as possible.

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For a week they removed debris, searched for signs of life, and rescued the trapped. The IDF Home Front Command’s rescue mission was deployed on the eve of Rosh Hashana to the epicenter of the powerful earthquake in Mexico, and its soldiers turned into heroes, overnight. Today the 71 rescuers return to Israel.

Among the rescuers was Lieutenant Liad Shahar, commander of the David Company of the Kedem battalion in the rescue brigade. 23-year-old Shahar, from Haifa, boarded the plane and went straight to the camp set up for the delegation within the Jewish community of Mexico City. “From the moment they called me, I felt the strength of the delegation,” he said. “Our aid was significant and I was excited to see how much the Mexican people embraced us and gave us love.”

Lieutenant Liad Shahar (left) with his fellow IDF comrades in Mexico

Lieutenant Liad Shahar (left) with his fellow IDF comrades in Mexico Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

During the rescue operations, although Shahar and his comrades found several survivors within the ruins, they unfortunately found many bodies as well. “We continued to extract and act as long as there was a chance,” Shahar explained. “Every action we took there saves lives, including evaluating buildings and returning them to their routine, which helps the Mexican people survive the elements.”

IDF soldiers in their camp in Mexico City

IDF soldiers in their camp in Mexico City Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

Heroes, overnight

Heroes, overnight Photo Credit: Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry/Channel 2 News

Israel’s aid mission, named the “Shofar’s Call to the Distance”, included about 71 soldiers and officers from both regular and reserve duty, from the IDF Home Front Command and the Israeli Air Force. In addition to search and rescue personnel, the mission included engineering experts who assessed the damage and provided engineering assistance. The delegation was headed by Col. (Res.) Dudi Mizrahi, who during routine times commands the Israeli National Air Search and Rescue Unit of the Home Front Command.