Israel Once Again Sends Help Abroad, Flies 150-Person Aid Mission To Turkey
Gil Cohen-Magen/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

True to its long tradition of sending aid to countries devasted by natural disasters, Israel sent a 150-person military aid mission to Turkey on Monday in the wake of the massive 7.8 earthquake and its 7.5 aftershock that shook Turkey to its foundations and killed roughly 3,000 people.

“Some 150 rescue experts are prepared to leave for Turkey in the next few hours. Of these, a third are headquarters and intelligence, and two-thirds have rescue, medical, and engineering capabilities,” Col. Golan Vach, commander of the IDF National Rescue Unit, stated.

“At the request of the Turkish government, I have instructed all authorities to make immediate preparations to provide medical, and search and rescue assistance,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated. “The foreign and defense ministers have already been in contact with their counterparts and we will — in the coming hours — agree on the dispatching of a delegation as soon as possible.”

“This is what we do around the world and this is what we do in areas close to us,” Netanyahu continued. “Since a request was also received to do this – for the many who were injured in the earthquake in Syria, I have instructed that this be done as well.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu informed him Turkey would “welcome the Israeli aid.” The operation, titled “Olive Branches,” saw two Israeli search and rescue teams sent to Turkey early Monday; a second flight was planned containing the full IDF rescue and medical teams. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant approved the IDF building a field hospital in Turkey.

Israel sent 80 tons of supplies food, tents, generators, baby formula, diapers and bedding to the U.S, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, as well as first response aid to the victims of the massive 2004 tsunami that struck Indonesia and Sri Lanka. In 2005, Israel also sent food and supplies to Kashmir after an earthquake there; in 2008 Israell sent food to the Congo. In 2009 Israel sent relief to storm victims in the Philippines.

In January 2010, Israel sent over 200 members of a disaster relief team, the first relief team sent from anywhere in the world, to Haiti, which had been devastated by an earthquake. The next year, in March 2011, Israel was one of the first countries to send aid to Japan after crushing earthquakes struck there.

Israel has provided relief to over 140 countries.

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