June 14, 2024
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June 14, 2024
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United Hatzalah emergency response teams, IDF, IsraAID arrive; Jewish Federations, JDC raise funds.

Rescue efforts continue as United Hatzalah of Israel, the IDF, IsraAID and other first responders race against time and frigid temperatures to rescue survivors buried in the rubble following Monday’s earthquakes that tore through southern Turkey and northern Syria.

United Hatzalah sent a delegation of 25 first responders and experts in search and rescue to Turkey on Tuesday to assist in rescue operations and provide medical assistance.

“As soon as we heard about the scale of the tragedy unfolding in Turkey, it was clear to us that we would send a team there in order to contribute to the relief effort,” said Vice President of Operations for United Hatzalah Dov Maisel. “The amount of damage wrought by the earthquakes is enormous. We are bringing all of our knowledge and manpower from previous experiences responding to disasters to assist in the rescue efforts.” The team also brought 10 tons of supplies.

The massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake and its aftershocks, one of which registered more than 7.5, have killed more than 11,000 people combined in Turkey and Syria, according to the latest numbers. The death toll is expected to continue to rise, making the earthquake the deadliest in over a decade.

The rescuers made their way by land to the epicenter of the destruction and set up a command center and field clinics and then began the arduous task of locating and rescuing survivors buried under the rubble, and administering medical aid.

IsraAID, which has provided relief in the aftermath of earthquakes in Haiti, Indonesia and elsewhere, landed in Turkey on Tuesday as well, to begin their assessments for long-term assistance. The team brought water, biofilters and other initial aid.

“We are committed to using our extensive experience responding to earthquakes and other disasters around the world to serve vulnerable people, who have been affected by this crisis,” said Yotam Polizer, the nongovernmental humanitarian organization’s CEO. “We are urgently deploying an Emergency Response Team to the affected area” in Turkey, “and will be assessing the situation to see how we can best stand by these communities and promote resilience on the long road to recovery.”

The chartered flight was arranged by United Hatzalah together with Sun D’Or, an El Al-owned subsidiary airline, in coordination with the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Israeli embassy in Ankara.

Gal Gershon, CEO of Sun D’Or, said, “When United Hatzalah CEO Eli Pollack turned to us in order to arrange a relief mission to Turkey, Sun D’Or made immediate preparations to charter a flight, building on our previous cooperation in Ukraine and after the Surfside condominium collapse [in Florida].”

The State of Israel also sent assistance, with 150 IDF rescue personnel sent to Turkey early Tuesday to assist with the disaster response as part of Operation Olive Branch.

Channel 12 reported Tuesday night that the Israeli experts had rescued three people from the rubble, but it was not clear where.

Another IDF delegation of medical and logistics corps troops was set to depart for Turkey early Wednesday morning to establish a field hospital. The IDF said the delegation would comprise some 230 people, including search and rescue experts, military medics, and Health Ministry doctors, nurses and paramedics.

Search teams, assistance, relief supplies and aid pledges from nearly 30 countries have also begun to pour in, with supplies beginning to arrive by airplane.

These boots on the ground have been joined by other organizations, such as The Jewish Federations of North America and American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which have launched fundraising campaigns to provide humanitarian aid.

“We remain in close contact with our disaster relief partners on the ground and are mobilizing our communities to raise funds to support their life-giving work,” said Julie Platt, JFNA’s board chair.

The Jewish value of tikun olam guides the umbrella group “day in and day out to extend our hands to those in need, and Jewish Federations pledge to carry out this mandate with pride and dignity,” she added.

“We’ll move quickly together with the Turkish Jewish community and other partners to get aid to those most impacted by the earthquake, including local Jewish communities, knowing that the harsh winter season makes this aid all the more critical to people enduring the cold, homelessness, hunger, injury and despair,” said Ariel Zwang, CEO of JDC.

This work is “the ultimate expression of JDC’s timeless dedication to arevut, mutual responsibility, and tikun olam,” she added.

These efforts are supporting some of the dramatic rescues which have been reported, including small children emerging from mounds of debris more than 30 hours after Monday’s pre-dawn quake. At press time it had been reported by Yeshiva World News that nearly 66,000 people had been injured, and at least 8,000 had been rescued. Rescue efforts were continuing at press time.

By Jewish Link Staff and combined sources

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