A certificate of appreciation from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was presented on Tuesday to the commander of the Israel Defense Forces’ National Rescue Unit, Col. (Ret.) Golan Vach, who commanded Israel’s rescue mission that helped locate survivors and provide aid during the recent earthquake in southern Turkey.
The Israeli rescue mission was one of the first to arrive to provide aid after the earthquake and succeeded in rescuing 19 survivors from the ruins. The IDF sent 230 medical and emergency response experts to set up a field hospital in Kahramanmaraş, in addition to a 150-member Home Front Command team.
The IDF delegation was supported by emergency medical specialists from the defense and health ministries, fire and rescue services, Magen David Adom, United Hatzalah and Zaka, among others.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed back in February the “Operation Olive Branches” life-saving mission to Turkey.
“The entire people of Israel followed your rescue operation with great excitement. You went on behalf of the country and you brought great honor to the State of Israel. We saw you in action in the cold, in difficult conditions around the clock in the most sacred work a person can do—saving the lives of others. ‘Whoever saves one soul’—you know the rest. You saved 19 worlds,” said Netanyahu.
He was invoking the Talmudic adage that states that whoever saves one person, it is as if he saved an entire universe.
“You did something else,” continued Netanyahu, “You showed the entire world the true and beautiful face of the State of Israel: A small country with a huge soul, a country that rushes to help others around the world and in the harshest conditions, out of humanity and the highest morality.”
Israel’s deputy ambassador to Turkey, Nadav Markman, who assisted in the rescue mission, said, “We greatly appreciate the gratitude from Turkey. The members of the Israeli delegation acted bravely and professionally. The close cooperation between the IDF, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the other factors in the field made it possible to save many lives, to show the beautiful face of the State of Israel.”