by: Kate Norman
Tuesday, 7 February 2023 | Following the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Turkey on Monday morning which has left much of the country decimated, Israel has deployed a search and rescue team and is preparing to establish a field hospital there as well.
The most recent death toll was an estimated 4,500 casualties, with the number expected to rise as search and rescue teams are still picking through debris throughout the country. Aftershocks from Monday’s earthquake were still rippling throughout the region when as recently as this morning, another earthquake measuring 5.6 pounded Turkey again.
Israel’s search and rescue team consists of 150 Home Front Command search and rescue experts. Most are reservist officers from the Home Front Command, the Times of Israel reported, as well as Fire and Rescue Service officials.
Speaking to reporters from the tarmac a few hours before the flight’s departure, Col. (res.) Golan Vach, head of the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] National Rescue Unit, noted that this is the unit’s 31st expedition in the past 40 years.
“We feel a great privilege to reach out to our neighbors and [their] citizens,” Vach said, as quoted by the Times of Israel.
A smaller unit arrived in Turkey earlier in the day to scope out the situation and get a better idea of what was needed on the ground.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry is also considering sending a third flight to Turkey carrying medicine and other humanitarian items, the Times of Israel reported.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also approved yesterday for the IDF to establish a field hospital in Turkey to help treat victims of the earthquake, following a meeting with IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi.
The military has dubbed Israel’s efforts to aid Turkey in responding to the earthquake “Operation Olive Branch,” the Times of Israel reported.
The IDF’s Home Front Command rescue unit frequently deploys to other countries to respond to natural disasters and assist in search and rescue efforts following floods, earthquakes, flooding and other disasters.
Several of those countries do not have diplomatic relations with Israel and do not recognize the Jewish state.
In fact, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced yesterday that Israel received a request to aid Syria as well, as Israel’s war-torn neighbor to the north has also been hard-hit by the earthquakes. Netanyahu said that he gave instructions for Israel to help in Syria as well as Turkey, according to a statement published by his office.
“This is what we do around the world and this is what we do in areas close to us,” Netanyahu said in the statement.
The prime minister later told his party in a televised speech that the request from Syria came from “a diplomatic official,” Ynetnews reported.
Unnamed Israeli sources told the Times of Israel that the request for help came via Russia. The Times of Israel also reported, however, that a Syrian official denied that the country asked for Israeli aid in an interview with Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Mayadeen.
Syria was struck by earthquakes in the northern section, where thousands of people displaced by the Syrian Civil War are living in dismal refugee camps. Israeli military and security officials are still seeking ways to help its enemy country, unnamed sources told the Times of Israel, including sending tents, blankets and medicine.
Israel also offered to receive Syrian earthquake victims for medical treatment, the Times of Israel said.
One core belief of Judaism is tikkun olam, “repairing the world,” which the nation of Israel as a whole puts into practice by offering a helping hand to countries in need after a devastating disaster. The name “Olive Branch” symbolizes Israel’s constant hand of peace reached out to offer help to countries around the world, including ones that do not have friendly relations with Jerusalem.
Posted on February 7, 2023
Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 7, 2023)
Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/commons.wikimedia.org
Photo License: wikimedia
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