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Israel sends rescue, medical teams to Turkey, humanitarian aid to Syria in wake of deadly earthquakes

The IDF dispatched a 150-person delegation to Turkey; Turkish President Erdoğan thanked Israeli President Herzog for the assistance

The Israeli humanitarian delegation lands in Turkey, Feb. 7, 2023 (Photo: David Saranga/Twitter)

The State of Israel is sending aid to Turkey and Syria in the wake of two deadly earthquakes that resulted in more than 3,000 fatalities and thousands of people injured. 

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed his condolences to the citizens of Turkey on Twitter on Monday, saying that he “instructed all authorities to prepare immediately to provide medical, rescue and relief assistance,” at the request of the Turkish government. 

A few hours later, the Israel Defense Forces dispatched a 150-person delegation to the quake-hit nation from an airbase in southern Israel. 

“Of these, a third are headquarters and intelligence, and two-thirds have rescue, medical and engineering capabilities,” said the commander of the IDF National Rescue Unit., Col. (Res.) Golan Vach, upon departure.  

An IDF spokesperson said that, along with medical and rescue experts, the delegation includes personnel from Israel’s foreign and defense ministries. 

The Israeli mission will operate in Turkey under the name “Olive Branches.”

In addition, the Israeli military’s Medical Corps is examining the option of establishing a field hospital in Turkey’s hardest hit area. 

Israel already sent out a smaller group to Turkey on Sunday, to assess the situation on the ground ahead of the larger delegation’s arrival. 

The IDF noted that it is the most significant earthquake that Israel’s Home Command mission has assisted with since the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010.

The Jewish state is also sending humanitarian aid to Syria, despite having no diplomatic ties with their northern neighbor, which is considered an enemy state. 

Netanyahu confirmed that Israel received a request to provide assistance “for the many who were injured in the earthquake in Syria,” and that he has “instructed that this be done.” 

According to the Times of Israel, it was Russia that channeled the Syrian request to Jerusalem. However, the Russian embassy in Israel declined to comment on the matter. 

Israel is slated to send humanitarian aid, such as blankets, medications and tents to Syria. The Jewish state also agreed to treat wounded Syrians in Israeli hospitals, if needed, a senior political official told the Times of Israel.

In addition to the Israeli government, various Israeli non-profit groups are separately involved in sending aid to Turkey, including United Hatzalah, Magen David Adom, MASHAV, Israel’s national aid agency and IsraAID. 

Israeli President Isaac Herzog spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday and expressed his condolences for the lives lost in the quake. 

Herzog informed Erdoğan about the scope of the assistance Israel is sending. He told the Turkish leader that he has met with both Netanyahu and Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid, who guaranteed him that Israel is united in its desire to help Turkey “as much as necessary,” Herzog’s office said in a statement.

Erdoğan thanked Herzog for the rescue mission, stressing that he is grateful for Israel’s standing by “its friend Turkey” in these difficult times.

Erdoğan also used the call as an opportunity to express his “deep condolences” to Herzog and the Israeli people over the deadly terrorist attack at a Jerusalem synagogue about a week ago. 

Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.

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