This afternoon, a first Israeli aid package including portable homes and buildings will arrive in the quake ravaged area in Eastern Turkey. Israel was the first country in the world to offer Ankara assistance in the aftermath of the October 23 natural disaster.
Deputy director general of the Defense Ministry, Bezalel Traiver, told Israel Radio that the portable structures could be set up immediately, anywhere and in almost any weather. Traiver said that at this stage, Turkey had only asked for temporary structures.
The Turkish government said today that it was struggling to cope with the demand from the homeless survivors for shelter. At the beginning of the week Turkey declined all international offers for help, citing the country could deal with the consequences of the 7.2-magnitude quake domestically. Last night, an official request for assistance was made to Jerusalem.
And though diplomatic ties between Israel and Turkey are at the lowest possible level, Israeli officials said humanitarian aid trumped any political crisis.
“The humanitarian gesture to Turkey was forthcoming regardless of the [diplomatic] crisis. We remember their assistance during the Carmel forest fire,” said Defense Minister Ehud Barak last night. “We will send everything necessary and whatever they ask for.”
Israel is well-known for the relief delegations it sends to help victims of manmade and natural disasters around the world.
Israel has sent rescue teams to Turkey before. In 1999, Israeli rescue teams pulled 12 people out of the rubble and recovered 140 bodies. Israel also set up a field hospital in the region and treated more than 1,000 victims.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said that “hundreds, possibly thousands” of people are still trapped under the rubble.