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Turkey-syria earthquakes

IDF assists Turkey after devastating earthquake

Israeli delegation of at least 230 personnel, includes search and rescue experts, military medics and Health Ministry doctors, nurses and paramedics

Israeli search and rescue team in Turkey, Feb. 7, 2023 (Photo: Twitter)

A delegation from the Israel Defense Forces' Medical Corps and Logistics Corps was ready to depart for Turkey on Wednesday morning to establish a field hospital following 7.7- and 7.6-magnitude earthquakes responsible for the deaths of at least 7,100 people in Turkey and Syria.  

The field hospital will be led by Commander of the Home Front Command Search and Rescue Brigade, Col. Elad Edri, in an operation the IDF has dubbed “Olive Branches.”

According to the IDF, at least 230 personnel, including search and rescue experts, military medics and Ministry of Health doctors, nurses and paramedics are part of the delegation.

“The delegation will establish a field hospital and focus on providing medical treatment using advanced equipment brought in from Israel,” the IDF said in a statement.

The first Israeli search and rescue (SAR) group left for Turkey on Monday evening to conduct a situational assessment and begin efforts that a larger 150-person SAR delegation from Israel’s Home Front Command joined on Tuesday morning. 

On Tuesday night, Israeli rescuers managed to locate and extract both a woman and a boy in separate areas in Kahramanmaraş who were trapped under rubble from the earthquakes.

“We were on our way to a damaged site, when we were called by locals who said they heard sounds coming from the rubble. We began a complicated rescue operation that lasted four-and-a-half hours … and we got out a 23-year-old woman in good health, only with a broken pelvis,” said Maj. (Res.) Matan Schneider, the team’s commander.

The deputy chief of the IDF Medical Corps, Col. Dr. Tomer Koller, is leading the preparations for an Israeli field hospital and will its manage operations. 

IDF Medical Corps Chief, Brig.-Gen. Dr. Elon Glassberg, said his team was proud to be able to assist Turkey “amid the great disaster” and noted that Israel was among few countries able to send in a field hospital.

“This is a difficult hour for the Turkish nation, and we are proud that we can come and assist,” Glassberg said. “The ability to send a hospital to another country is a unique ability. Few countries are able to do such a thing and we are proud to be the ones to come and help. We have done so in the past, we will do it this time, and we will do it like always, with professionalism, from a sense of responsibility and with a sense of pride … we will bring pride to the State of Israel.”

It is far from the first time that Israel has sent field hospitals abroad to help other countries after natural disasters, including earthquakes, flooding and building collapses. Israel has also sent field hospitals to war zones, such as the one sent to Ukraine last March. 

In addition to the two IDF delegations, Israel’s volunteer-based emergency medical services organization, United Hatzalah, sent a third delegation, organizing a flight to Gaziantep in southern Turkey on Tuesday, with dozens of Israeli doctors, medics, rescue operators and psycho-trauma specialists on board. 

Israel’s IsraAID NGO and SmartAID-Magen Search and Rescue also sent rescue teams.

Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs is considering sending an additional flight with more humanitarian aid, including medicine. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spoke on the issue on Monday, said Israel plans to send material assistance to Syria, including tents, medication and blankets, after receiving a request for aid to Syria from a third party, reportedly Russia.

Syria, itself, denied requesting any help from Israel and called Netanyahu’s statement “propaganda.”

According to IDF Spokesperson Ran Kochav, the IDF is not involved with aiding Syria, a country with which it has no diplomatic ties and is technically at war.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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