by Shira Silkoff
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog both issued condolences to Syria and Turkey as aid organizations prepared to leave for disaster zones.
Rescuers search for survivors at the site of a collapsed building, following an earthquake, in Hama, Syria February 6, 2023.
(photo credit: REUTERS/YAMAM AL SHAAR)
Israel will deliver blankets, tents, and medicine to Syria, Israel's KAN news reported on Monday afternoon, according to a discussion that took place earlier among the political echelon.
This news follows a deadly earthquake in Turkey and Syria overnight in which at least 2,200 people were killed and thousands more were injured.
Syria's request was relayed via Russia to Israel's National Security Council. According to an Israeli senior official, if a request is made of Israel to receive Syrian wounded and provide medical care, it will be approved.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has instructed the IDF and the Defense Ministry to immediately prepare to provide emergency aid through the Home Front Command's international rescue units, he said in a statement on Monday morning.
"The security forces are ready to offer whatever assistance is required," he said. "The security system has gained a lot of experience over the years in dealing with disaster areas."
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen sent his condolences to the Turkish people in the wake of the disaster.
"On behalf of the State of Israel, I would like to express deep sorrow to the Turkish people for the severe earthquake that struck southern Turkey tonight," he said.
"Our hearts go out to the victims and we wish the injured a speedy recovery. I have instructed the Foreign Ministry to lead a rapid aid program for Turkey to deal with the severe disaster.
The IDF said early on Monday afternoon that they are in the process of preparing to send an aid delegation to Turkey. The delegation will be overseen by the Prime Minister and the Defense Ministry.
More details are still to come, they said in a statement.
"At the request of the Turkish government, I instructed all authorities to prepare immediately to provide medical assistance and to aid with searching and rescuing."Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
United Hatzalah, MDA prepare for rescue mission
United Hatzalah of Israel, Israel's national volunteer EMS organization, is currently preparing to send a relief mission to Turkey as well, they said on Monday morning.
CEO of United Hatzalah Eli Pollack said: "As soon as we heard about the scale of the destruction and tragedy, we immediately began to assess the situation and prepare an advanced jump team to provide relief in the wake of the devastating earthquake that has claimed the lives of hundreds of people."
Magen David Adom also announced their intentions to send volunteers and experts to Turkey, saying: "Magen David Adom has experience in the provision of aid to disaster zones, and the professional authorities are closely following the developments of the earthquake in Turkey, and are prepared to offer any aid that is required."
Israel offers aid to Syria
Israel is prepared to extend its aid to earthquake-struck Syria as well, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday, in a rare overture to the enemy Arab state.
"I ordered to send, at the request of the Turkish government, rescue teams and medical aid," Netanyahu said at a ceremony in a hospital near Tel Aviv. "Since a request was also received to do this for many victims of the earthquake in Syria, I instructed to do this as well," he said.
According to an unnamed Israeli official, Syria had been the one to reach out to Israel to request aid. However, no further details to this end have been made public.
Asked who had made the request regarding Syria cited by Netanyahu, an Israeli official told Reuters: "The Syrians." Asked if this referred to opposition members or to President Bashar al-Assad's government, the official said only: "Syria."
A second Israeli official said the request had been relayed to the Netanyahu government "by a diplomatic source."
There was no immediate Syrian response to the Israeli statements.
Israel's leaders, politicians send their condolences
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement with his condolences and announced Israel's intention to provide humanitarian assistance.
"On behalf of all the citizens of Israel, I send my condolences to the citizens of Turkey in their difficult time following the earthquake that struck our region," he said.
"At the request of the Turkish government, I instructed all authorities to prepare immediately to provide medical assistance and to aid with searching and rescuing. The foreign and defense ministers are already in contact with their counterparts and in the next few hours we will summarize the departure of the delegation as soon as possible."
Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana sent his condolences to both Turkey and Syria, saying that "as always, we reach out with humanitarian help in whatever is needed and wish for the health and speedy recovery of the injured."
President Isaac Herzog also sent his condolences to the country with which Israel has recently worked to strengthen ties.
Tweeting his statement in Hebrew, Turkish and English, the president wrote: "On behalf of the Israeli people, I am deeply saddened by the enormous disaster that has befallen Türkiye following last night's earthquake.
"My condolences to President Erdoğan and the Turkish people for the loss of life and destruction of livelihoods," he continued.
"The State of Israel always stands ready to assist in every way possible. Our hearts are with the grieving families and the Turkish people at this painful moment."President Isaac Herzog
"The State of Israel always stands ready to assist in every way possible. Our hearts are with the grieving families and the Turkish people at this painful moment."
Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli sent her condolences as well, and warned Israel that this must be treated as "a warning alarm" to ensure that the country prepares "as soon as possible for a similar scenario in order to prevent the loss of human life."
Around 1,500 people have been killed, with thousands more injured as buildings collapsed across the region, sparking ongoing attempts to search for and rescue survivors from underneath the rubble.
The tremors and aftershocks of the quake were felt in Israel by people up and down the country from the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem areas to Beersheba and Beit She'an.
It was also felt in other locations across the region, with reports in both Lebanon and Cyprus of intense aftershocks.
In the Lebanese cities of Beirut and Tripoli, residents ran into the street and took their cars to get away from their buildings in case they collapsed, witnesses said.
Syria denies report it requested Israeli aid
Syrian pro-government newspaper Al-Watan cited an official source on Monday denying its government requested Israeli assistance with earthquake relief.
Reuters and Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.
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