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For war-related rehab, leading Israeli hospital uses innovative simulation system and unique tools

Even before the smoke began to clear from Hamas’s deadly Oct. 7 attack, Israeli healthcare professionals realized they were facing a series of unprecedented challenges.

Not only would wounded civilians and soldiers require treatment, but the entire nation was traumatized, including caregivers.

“By the afternoon of October 7, we knew this was a huge event that nobody had ever encountered in Israel,” said Prof. Amitai Ziv, a former combat pilot and director of the Integrated Rehabilitation Hospital at Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv. “We immediately realized we will have two major challenges, each one a tsunami. One is the number of patients that require rehabilitation, and two, the largest numbers ever of people suffering from acute stress disorder, which might lead to PTSD — post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Ziv, a physician, is also the founder and director of MSR – the Israel National Center for Medical Simulation at Sheba. The center enables healthcare providers like doctors and nurses to practice challenging clinical procedures and encounters in a simulated environment using tools such as robotics, surgical simulators and even role-playing actors so that real patients are not put in any danger. Since its establishment, over 300,000 healthcare professionals have been trained and certified by MSR.

In the days immediately following Oct 7, MSR switched to focus on new wartime needs. The center transported high-tech, full-body mannequin simulators to train army medical teams serving in both major conflict zones — in the Gaza area and along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon — to improve their trauma management skills and prepare them for the lifesaving scenarios they were about to encounter in the battlefield. The center also used actors for “high-touch” simulations of interactions with people experiencing trauma to help prepare psychosocial teams to manage stress-related issues. 

The hostage issue presented the most difficult challenge.

Even if the hostages’ release could be secured, how could they be reintegrated into Israeli life under such extreme circumstances — with relatives still being held by Hamas, family members murdered, their homes destroyed, entire communities displaced and the nation in the midst of an intense war with mounting casualties? 

Ziv launched a series of intensive training courses involving simulations to prepare Sheba physicians, psychologists, and social workers, as well as Israel Defense Forces psychosocial professionals, to receive the hostages and accompany them during the early hours and days after their return from captivity. Out of the over 100 captives that were released in November, 30 went to Sheba.

Treating the hostages is just part of Ziv’s war-related work at Sheba, Israel’s largest hospital. As soon as the war started, Ziv began moving around entire departments and retraining staff to add capacity in the rehab hospital, which consists of three divisions: physical, mental and geriatric rehabilitation. Quick renovations added 122 new rehab beds to the 140 existing beds. 

“We made a decision that we would not say no to any patient who needs to be here, war- as well as non-war-related, and we do not push anyone out,” Ziv said. “We pushed ourselves to accommodate all evolving patient needs.”

Sheba has received more war-related rehab patients than any other hospital in the country. Most are recovering from complex injuries involving abdominal, surgical, and orthopedic injuries, amputations, or neurologic, spinal, or head injuries. Pain management and mental support are major priorities.

“PTSD is going to be the main, long-lasting condition requiring treatment,” Ziv said. He estimated that the numbers will be in the thousands and warned that even before the war, Israel had a 40% national staffing shortage of mental health professionals.

Yotam Polizer, IsraAID’s CEO, at a field school that the relief organization set up in the southern Israeli city of Eilat to serve Israeli families displaced by the Oct. 7 war. (Yehuda Ben-Itah/IsraAID)

Patients, most of whom spend two to three months in rehab, have access to an array of therapies at Sheba, including physical, occupational, and hydro therapies, as well as complementary therapies such as art, yoga, and even animal-assisted therapy using Sheba’s four trained dogs.  

“It doesn’t feel like a hospital,” said Avishai Shoshani, 49, a combat soldier at Sheba injured in both legs during combat in Gaza. “Here you feel like you’re with a bunch of friends. And this is a very important aspect of rehab.”

Unlike most other rehab facilities in Israel, Sheba’s integrated rehabilitation hospital is part of the larger medical center, giving rehab patients full access to the acute care hospital where many of them have been treated initially. The integration helps ensure continuity of care for patients who need surgery and other medical treatments during the rehabilitation process.

The war also brought an unprecedented partnership between Sheba and IsraAID, the Israeli disaster relief organization that provides emergency medical response, post-trauma mental health support, and humanitarian relief after disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, fires, and wars. IsraAid and Sheba had collaborated in the past on global disasters, but they never before had to work together in Israel. 

Both Ziv, 65, and IsraAID CEO Yotam Polizer, 40, are members of a unique group: They are laureates of The Charles Bronfman Prize, an annual $100,000 award given to a Jewish humanitarian under age 50 whose work benefits humankind and is grounded in Jewish values. 

The Prize was established in 2004 by the children of Canadian philanthropist Charles Bronfman — Ellen Bronfman Hauptman and Stephen Bronfman together with their spouses Andrew Hauptman and Claudia Blondin Bronfman — to honor their father’s values and philanthropic work.

Ziv received the Prize in 2007 and is now one of the judges on the prize committee; Polizer won the award last year. As part of the prize fellowship, laureates get to know one another and sometimes end up collaborating. IsraAID recently facilitated a partnership with the State of California to donate a field hospital to Sheba.

While IsraAID has worked in many countries, including post-tsunami Japan and post-earthquake Haiti, the current war in Israel is unlike any other disaster it has dealt with because it’s happening at home, Polizer said. 

“This is a new challenge for us to give professional humanitarian support while we are at the same time part of the community that is affected,” Polizer said. “Being able to do something, even if it is small, also helps our team from a mental-health perspective. My coping mechanism is doing something and getting into action.” 

Soon after Oct. 7, IsraAID began working with displaced Israeli families who had been relocated to hotels from their homes in Israeli communities in the conflict zone.

Ziv, too, is touched personally by the war, as is practically every Israeli. He has two sons who serve in the army reserves, one a surgeon in the medical corps in Gaza. His staffers also have family in the army or friends injured or killed or displaced.  

“This is a long journey. We will be dealing with the outcomes of the war for years to come,” Ziv said. “Yet I trust the solidarity and courageous spirit of the Israeli people. These unique, exceptional qualities are of utmost significance for successful rehabilitation — and for resiliency, strength and cohesion of Israeli society.”

The post For war-related rehab, leading Israeli hospital uses innovative simulation system and unique tools appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Israeli Official: ‘Important Operation’ in Yemen Sends Strong Message to Shiite Axis

Drones are seen at a site at an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on April 20, 2023. Photo: Iranian Army/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS

i24 NewsA senior Israeli security official spoke to i24NEWS on Saturday on condition of the retaliatory strike carried out by the Israel Air Force against the Houthi jihadists in Yemen.

“This is an important operation which signals that there’s room for further escalation, and sends a very strong message to the entire Shiite axis.”

“We understood there is a high probability of counter attacks, but if we do not respond, the meaning is even worse. Israel has updated the US prior to the operation.”

The strike on Hodeida came after long-range Iranian-made drone hit a building in central Tel Aviv, killing one man and wounded several others.

The post Israeli Official: ‘Important Operation’ in Yemen Sends Strong Message to Shiite Axis first appeared on

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IDF Confirms Striking ‘Terrorist Houthi Regime’ in Yemen’s Hodeida

Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi addresses followers via a video link at the al-Shaab Mosque, formerly al-Saleh Mosque, in Sanaa, Yemen, Feb. 6, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

i24 NewsThe Israeli military on Saturday confirmed striking a port in Yemen controlled by the Houthi jihadists, a day after the Iranian proxy group perpetrated a deadly drone attack on Tel Aviv.

“A short while ago, IDF fighter jets struck military targets of the Houthi terrorist regime in the area of the Al Hudaydah Port in Yemen in response to the hundreds of attacks carried out against the State of Israel in recent months.”

After Houthi drone attack on Tel Aviv, reports and footage out of Yemen of air strikes hitting Hodeida

— Video used in accordance with clause 27A of Israeli copyright law

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) July 20, 2024

Yoav Gallant, the defense minister, issued a statement saying “The fire that is currently burning in Hodeidah, is seen across the Middle East and the significance is clear. The Houthis attacked us over 200 times. The first time that they harmed an Israeli citizen, we struck them. And we will do this in any place where it may be required.”

“The blood of Israeli citizens has a price,” Gallant added. “This has been made clear in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Yemen, and in other places – if they will dare to attack us, the result will be identical.”

Gallant: ‘The fire currently burning in Hodeida is seen across the region and the significance is clear… The blood of Israeli citizens has a price, as has been made clear in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Yemen and in other places – if they dare attack us, the result will be identical.’

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) July 20, 2024

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One Part of Cyprus Mourns, the Other Rejoices 50 Years After Split

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan leaves after attending a military parade to mark the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus in response to a short-lived Greek-inspired coup, in the Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus, in the divided city of Nicosia, Cyprus July 20, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Greek Cypriots mourned and Turkish Cypriots rejoiced on Saturday, the 50th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of part of the island after a brief Greek inspired coup, with the chances of reconciliation as elusive as ever.

The ethnically split island is a persistent source of tension between Greece and Turkey, which are both partners in NATO but are at odds over numerous issues.

Their differences were laid bare on Saturday, with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attending a celebratory military parade in north Nicosia to mark the day in 1974 when Turkish forces launched an offensive that they call a “peace operation.”

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was due later on Saturday to attend an event in the south of the Nicosia to commemorate what Greeks commonly refer to as the “barbaric Turkish invasion.” Air raid sirens sounded across the area at dawn.

Mitsotakis posted an image of a blood-stained map of Cyprus on his LinkedIn page with the words “Half a century since the national tragedy of Cyprus.”

There was jubilation in the north.

“The Cyprus Peace Operation saved Turkish Cypriots from cruelty and brought them to freedom,” Erdogan told crowds who gathered to watch the parade despite stifling midday heat, criticizing the south for having a “spoiled mentality” and seeing itself as the sole ruler of Cyprus.

Peace talks are stalled at two seemingly irreconcilable concepts – Greek Cypriots want reunification as a federation. Turkish Cypriots want a two-state settlement.

Erdogan left open a window to dialogue although he said a federal solution, advocated by Greek Cypriots and backed by most in the international community, was “not possible.”

“We are ready for negotiations, to meet, and to establish long-term peace and resolution in Cyprus,” he said.

Cyprus gained independence from Britain in 1960, but a shared administration between Greek and Turkish Cypriots quickly fell apart in violence that saw Turkish Cypriots withdraw into enclaves and led to the dispatch of a U.N. peacekeeping force.

The crisis left Greek Cypriots running the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union since 2004 with the potential to derail Turkey’s own decades-long aspirations of joining the bloc.

It also complicates any attempts to unlock energy potential in the eastern Mediterranean because of overlapping claims. The region has seen major discoveries of hydrocarbons in recent years.


Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides, whose office represents the Greek Cypriot community in the reunification dialogue, said the anniversary was a somber occasion for reflection and for remembering the dead.

“Our mission is liberation, reunification and solving the Cyprus problem,” he said. “If we really want to send a message on this tragic anniversary … it is to do anything possible to reunite Cyprus.”

Turkey, he said, continued to be responsible for violating human rights and international law over Cyprus.

Across the south, church services were held to remember the more than 3,000 people who died in the Turkish invasion.

“It was a betrayal of Cyprus and so many kids were lost. It wasn’t just my son, it was many,” said Loukas Alexandrou, 90, as he tended the grave of his son at a military cemetery.

In Turkey, state television focused on violence against Turkish Cypriots prior to the invasion, particularly on bloodshed in 1963-64 and in 1967.

Turkey’s invasion took more than a third of the island and expelled more than 160,000 Greek Cypriots to the south.

Reunification talks collapsed in 2017 and have been at a stalemate since. Northern Cyprus is a breakaway state recognized only by Turkey, and its Turkish Cypriot leadership wants international recognition.

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