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Netanyahu hails ‘highest order’ aid mission in quake-struck Turkey

IDF Home Front Command personnel have saved 10 people from collapsed buildings and are currently trying to save more.

An IDF search and rescue team looks for survivors in Turkey, Feb. 8, 2023. Source: Twitter.
An IDF search and rescue team looks for survivors in Turkey, Feb. 8, 2023. Source: Twitter.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday commended the work of the IDF search and rescue delegation in earthquake-stricken Turkey, which has saved 10 people from collapsed buildings since starting its work the previous day.

“You are representing the mission with the most experience on the international level. You have much experience, which has proven itself. You are carrying out a humanitarian mission of the highest order and are bringing much honor to us and the State of Israel and are showing Israel’s true face to the world,” Netanyahu told Col. (res.) Golan Vach of the IDF Home Front Command, the head of the delegation, in a phone call.

“Please convey my greetings to all members of the mission. Do what you can to save lives and be careful,” he added.

Vach said that the emergency response team was currently engaged in efforts to save additional people from the rubble.

“We are trying to make every effort to save lives. Time-wise, this has been the most successful day that our missions have ever had thanks to the fact that you succeeded in getting us here very quickly,” he told the prime minister.

A separate Israel Defense Forces delegation arrived in Turkey on Wednesday morning to set up a field hospital in the wake of the massive earthquakes this week that have so far claimed the lives of more than 15,000 people there and in neighboring Syria.

The delegation is composed of more than 230 medical and emergency response experts and was sent as part of the IDF’s “Operation Olive Branches” humanitarian effort.

The team will also assist the 150-member Home Front Command delegation.

The United Hatzalah of Israel emergency medical services organization has also sent a delegation of 25 first responders to Turkey.

A massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake ripped through Turkey and Syria early Monday, toppling buildings and causing shockwaves felt across the region, including in Cyprus, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Israel.

Just before 1 p.m., a 7.5 magnitude quake struck 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) southeast of Ekinözü, Turkey, at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), said the USGS.

The USGS has since recorded dozens of aftershocks of greater than 4.0 magnitude, which along with harsh winter weather have made recovery efforts difficult.

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