(photo credit: AP)
Iran's consul in Thailand graciously received Israeli officials and forensic and medical representatives on Tuesday who offered their help in identifying the 18 Iranian victims of Sunday's plane crash, which killed at least 89 people.
Although the Iranian consul did not take up the Israeli offer for help, he commented afterward that national differences are irrelevant in humanitarian crises and that "we are all similar."
While Israel and Iran have no diplomatic ties - to put it mildly - the major disaster and the ensuing emergency operations apparently made it easier for the two countries to approach one another.
"Many representatives of embassies and consulates came here, to Phuket, after finding out their countries had dead passengers among the plane crash victims," said Hanoch Amedi, Israel's consul in Thailand. "Our police attachÃ© was here, and he spoke to the Iranian consul and told him we were willing to help anyone who needed assistance, with no distinction. The Iranian consul thanked him and told him that if he needed any help, he would turn to him."
"In light of our vast experience with such disasters," said Magen David Adom paramedic Asi Deblinski, "we offered our help to the injured from other countries who survived the crash."
Deblinski said that, in the hospital room next to injured Israeli couple Vladimir and Isabelle Freilichman, was an Iranian man with broken limbs who had managed to escape the burning plane.
"I turned to him to ask him if he needed something or if I could assist him in some way. He saw I was wearing the MDA uniform with a red Star of David, so I am sure he knew where I was from. He thanked me politely for my offer, but rejected it. I, as a medical worker, had to do what I did," said Deblinski.
Meanwhile, Israel appeared to be the only country to send so many professionals on such short notice.
"We are the only foreign country that sent teams here, and we are helping identify the body of a British citizen after the British consul here called us and asked for our help, [as did] the French authorities," Ch.-Supt. Itzik Koronio, head of the Israeli forensic team, told The Jerusalem Post.
"I thought we would be the last to arrive here, but this morning at a work meeting with the Thai authorities, I found out we were the only country that sent professional teams," Koronio said. "I guess this is one good thing that distinguishes us from the rest of the world, and it's also probably because we are more experienced, ready and familiar with these types of accidents."