David Amess honoured with mezuzah in Israel's new hi-tech blood bank

Jewish constituents of the late Sir David Amess funded the mezuzah in a blood bank capable of withstanding a ballistic missile strike


Murdered British MP David Amess has been honoured with a dedicated mezuzah in a new national blood centre in Israel.

Opened on Monday by President Isaac Herzog, the 48,000 square-metre Magen David Adom (MDA) facility is the world’s most secure national blood bank.

Ensuring a life-saving supply in all emergencies, it can withstand a direct ballistic missile attack, biological and chemical weapons, earthquakes, and cyber-terrorism.

The Marcus National Blood Services Centre in the city of Ramla has been built at a cost of £100million, funded primarily by donations from around the world.

Of that, £8million comes from Britain — including an £1,800 donation for the mezuzah in memory of Amess, the Southend MP who died after he was repeatedly stabbed at his constituency last October.

The funds were raised by the Southend and Westcliff MDA committee, jointly led by Linda Burns, which has also provided cash for new ambulances and equipment.

Dedicating the mezuzah on a tour of the facility, Linda said: “David Amess was the most wonderful, wonderful person in Southend and he was an inspiration — a true friend to all Jewish people. He came to Israel, everybody loved him, and it was a terrible tragedy that he was killed the way he was.

“We dedicated a mezuzah to him. He was our MP, and we’re very proud.

“It was a sad loss, and we’re delighted that we can actually put a mezuzah in his name in this wonderful blood centre here in Israel.

“He came to all of our events, so it’s right and fitting.”

The blood centre is set across six floors, three of them underground.

The first below the surface houses blood bank laboratories and a vast car park for ambulances.

In the level below are essential reserves of blood, along with research labs and the air filtration systems that will allow staff to continue working even in the event of a chemical or biological weapon attack.

The deepest level is home to the blood storage vault, a 300 square-metre  safe-room shielded against a direct missile attack.

The new facility will allow MDA — Israel’s emergency medical service — to process double the 270,000 units of blood per year that they can currently.

It will provide at least 3,300 units of blood per day during times of war, enabling both military and civilian lives to be saved.

The centre was built to replace the old facility in Ramat Gan, which dates back to the 1980s and was judged no longer sufficient for the demands of Israel’s growing population.

The centre is named in honour of Bernie Marcus, the founder of American home improvement chain Home Depot, and his wife Billi, who donated $35 million (£28m) towards the project.

Speaking at the dedication ceremony, President Herzog said: “Here, in this important, precious blood bank, we feel the essence of human co-dependence. It teaches us that we are brothers and sisters, even if we argue and disagree — but blood donations must be above any disagreement.”

Also there was Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, who said: “During the operations and wars over the years, MDA has had to stop processing blood and move the country’s blood services into bomb shelters.

“This actually interrupted blood production when it was most urgent for both civilians and soldiers alike.”

Daniel Burger, chief executive of MDA UK, told the JC: “We’re really thrilled to be able to help such an intrinsically important part of Israeli society.”

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