ISTANBUL — Seven separate Israeli entities are sending aid to Turkey and Syria in the wake of the earthquakes that have struck the area:
- Israel’s Foreign Ministry;
- Israel’s Defense Ministry;
- United Hatzalah of Israel;
- IsraAID; and
- Magen David Adom
On Monday, Feb. 6, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake left some 7,000 dead (estimate as of press time) and countless others trapped under collapsed buildings. A second 7.5 magnitude quake struck the region later in the afternoon on Monday.
Israel is sending medication, tents and other supplies to Syria, its neighbor with which it is at war, according to Hebrew language media.
The Israeli military is also sending rescue teams to both countries, according to the Israeli embassy in the Turkish capital Ankara.
That embassy was only recently formally re-established after years of diplomatic tensions.
Said Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Feb. 6: “At the request of the Turkish government, I have instructed all authorities to make immediate preparations to provide medical, and search and rescue assistance.
“The Foreign and Defense ministers have already been in contact with their counterparts and we will — in the coming hours — agree on the dispatching of a delegation as soon as possible.”
The quake, whose epicenter was in the eastern Turkish province of Kahramanmaras, was felt throughout the region, as far as Israel.
It was the highest magnitude earthquake the country has experienced in nearly a century and has the highest number of casualties in decades.
Antakya, a city in southeastern Turkey at the Syrian border, was hit particularly hard.
Last year, 14 Jews remained in a community that has stood for centuries, stretching back to the days of the Seleucid Empire.
The city’s namesake, Antiochus, was the villain of the Chanukah story.
Three members of the largely elderly community — its president, his wife and his brother — were trapped by rubble after their apartment building collapsed on Monday. It was initially reported that they had been rescued, but later reports, once citing Israeli Ambassador to Turkey Irit Lillian, said they were still missing.
The nearby city of Adana, which has a Jewish community of fewer than a dozen people, was also badly hit by the quake, but none of the local Jews are reported missing or injured.
The region is also home to many sites of Jewish heritage, from historic synagogues to Harran, the transit point of Abraham, mentioned in the Bible. Whether any have been damaged is not yet known.
The overwhelming majority of Turkey’s Jews live on the western side of the country, largely in Istanbul, with a smaller community in Izmir. Both cities were unaffected by the quake.
“The embassy is reaching the Jewish communities across Turkey and is searching for Israelis if there are any in the affected region,” said Nadav Markman, the deputy chief of mission of Israel in Turkey.
Turkey has experienced deadly earthquakes before. In 1999, during the Izmit Earthquake, the ground shook for under 40 seconds but nearly 20,000 people died.
That disaster registered a 7.6 on the Richter scale compared to Monday’s 7.8.
Since the seismic event around 4:17 a.m. local time, there have been more than 100 aftershocks, many with magnitudes topping 4 or 5 themselves.
The shocks are expected to continue for several days.