The Israeli rescue team United Hatzalahdeployed in Turkey to support the rescue efforts after the earthquakes, had to abandon their mission and return to Israel emergency after facing a series of threats to his security, the organization reported this Sunday.
We received information about a concrete and immediate threat against the Israeli delegation and we have to put the safety of our staff first”, said Dov Maisel, vice president of operations for United Hatzala, through a statement from the first responders.
Raphael Poch, spokesman for the organization, assured Efe that these are two different threats.
“The first came from abroad, from non-Turkish elements.”, he said, without specifying a particular organization.
Israeli authorities have claimed in the past that Iran and its allies have increased their attempts to attack Israelis abroad in the past two years, and have thwarted numerous attacks, including several that were planned in Turkey.
“The second threat came after the (Turkish) government informed the local population that the dead (from the earthquakes) would be buried in a mass grave.. They are very unhappy about it and they began to attack rescue groups”, he explained.
Thus, the United Hatzalah team – some 25 first responders who rescued 15 people during their stay in Turkey– flew back to Israel in a private flight.
The earthquakes registered since early Monday in Turkey and Syria have left at least 28,192 dead, the majority in Turkish territory, in addition to 85,000 injured in both countries. The UN estimates that the number will continue to increase in large proportions.
Israel, which had fierce disputes with Turkey before fully restoring diplomatic ties last year, sent 150 rescuers and 230 professionals in health care to the Turkish cities most affected by the earthquakes, together with a rescue team and humanitarian aid.
The Israeli Army delegation, called “olive branches”, has saved about twenty people and began treating earthquake victims at a local hospital in the city of Kahramanmaraş.
The patients included more than 10 Syrian refugees, a military spokesman said.
Beyond aid to Turkey, Israel assured that it will also provide assistance to Syria, a country with which it is formally in conflict and with which it does not maintain official diplomatic ties.
Israeli government officials confirmed to EFE that the Jewish state will send medicines, blankets and tents to Syria to help the victims of the earthquake.
(With information from EFE)
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