February 8, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Saves Lives in Turkey, Offers Syria Aid After Earthquake

February 8, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Saves Lives in Turkey, Offers Syria Aid After Earthquake

Latest Developments

An Israeli aid delegation sent to earthquake-struck Turkey has begun work, officials said on Wednesday. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Homefront Command dispatched the 150-person search-and-rescue team to Adana shortly after Monday’s earthquake, which has killed thousands in southeastern Turkey and neighboring Syria. Countless victims were trapped in rubble, with harsh winter conditions exacerbating their plight.

Expert Analysis

“As with previous disasters all over the globe, Israel was among the first countries to send relief and get to work on saving lives in Turkey — and it even offered assistance to Syria, an enemy country. The Israeli response in Turkey should be noted by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who only recently made moves to improve bilateral ties with Jerusalem after years of evincing open hostility.” Mark Dubowitz, FDD Chief Executive

“This would not be the first time that Israeli assistance saved lives in Syria. Israeli hospitals treated thousands of sick and wounded Syrians beginning in 2013. As part of Operation Good Neighbor, Israel also trucked supplies across the border. Yet that project ended when the Assad regime re-asserted control over villages near the border. One hopes that Assad will make the right choice for his people and accept Israeli aid during this emergency. But Israel should beware — Damascus mainly accepts foreign aid when it can ensure that most of it lines the pockets of regime officials.” — David Adesnik, FDD Senior Fellow and Director of Research

Israel Mobilizes

Assigned to Kahramanmaras, a six-hour drive from Adana, the IDF team late on Tuesday successfully rescued several people. On Wednesday, officials said the first detachment of an IDF field hospital was en route, with more than 200 personnel. In parallel, NGOs from Israel, including United Hatzalah and ZAKA, mounted their own relief operations in Turkey.

Israel Offers to Aid Syrian Victims

Separately, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday that Israel was prepared to send aid to Syrian victims of the quake after receiving a request through a “diplomatic official” whom he did not identify.

Israeli media said the intermediary was Russia — implying that the request was from the Moscow-backed regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, rather than rebel groups. Russia declined comment, while the pro-Damascus newspaper Al Watan quoted an unnamed regime official as denying that Syria had made such a request of Israel.

Related Analysis

Washington wins as Turkey and Israel restore normal ties,” by Brenda Shaffer

How Russia Won the UN Showdown Over Syria,” by David Adesnik


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