Credit: The Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces sent a rescue team of 150 people and a field hospital team of 230 people to help locate survivors of the earthquake that struck Turkey near the border with Syria. The aid comes 6 months after Israel and Turkey resumed full diplomatic relations.
So far, Turkey and Syria have more than 16,000 dead, with thousands of people missing. Since arriving in the country, the IDF team has already pulled 10 people alive from the rubble – each rescue operation lasts about 4h30.
The team is performing at a high level, taking into account the short time they arrived in Turkey and the destruction they encountered after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake.
Head of Antakya Jewish community and wife found dead
Sadly, the bodies of Saul Cenudioglu, head of the small Jewish community of Antakya, and his wife Fortuna, were found lifeless under the rubble of their home.
The head of Antakya's Jewish community, Saul Cenudioglu, who did not survive the earthquake
Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, who has been actively working to help Jews affected by the earthquake, said that the Antakya synagogue is not in good condition but has not been completely destroyed. The rabbi posted a video of rescuing a Torah scroll from the site and said: “Saving ancient Torah scrolls from the earthquake damaged synagogue of Antakya - home for a Jewish community for 2500 years...”.
Geographically, Antakya is much closer to Aleppo than it is to Istanbul, and for as long as that was possible, the two communities shared cultural ties.
The IDF's intention is to remain in Turkey for at least another week. Even though 72 hours have passed since the earthquake – the period when most survivors are found, the IDF Col. Golan Voch told Israeli media that in other incidents, it was possible to locate people who stayed more than 100 hours under the rubble.
“We will go over 420 personnel soon. All Israeli citizens can be proud. The speed with which we got to the field has been impressive and we hope we will continue with success going forward.”, declared Voch.