IDF prepares rescue mission to Turkey after earthquake

Netanyahu: “This is what neighbors do”; Ankra rejects all internationals calls for aid following powerful earthquake.

Turkey Quake 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Turkey Quake 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz on Sunday ordered the Home Front Command to prepare a standby mission to head out to Turkey, after a powerful earthquake rocked the southeastern part of the country.
Turkey has not made any international calls for assistance, an official in Ankara said, and has rejected the dozens of offers made from various countries.
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The IDF, however, said it was preparing a mission just in case Ankara changed its mind.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, “I have instructed all branches of the Israeli government to offer whatever help it can offer to the people of Turkey.”
Netanyahu said Israel had provided earthquake assistance to Turkey in the past, and Turkey had raced to help Israel during the Carmel Forest fire last winter.
“It is what neighbors should be doing with one another,” Netanyahu said.
Still, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Channel 2 Sunday night Turkey was not interested in Israel’s offer at this time.
He, too, made reference to the last time Israel offered relief and rescue assistance to Turkey 11 years ago, and hinted at the tensions that have since broken out between the two countries.
“We’re in a different reality now,” Barak said.
He stressed that Israel’s offer remains on the table.
“We have not forgotten that Turkey was the first to help us with the Carmel fire disaster,” Barak said.
On Sunday, President Shimon Peres spoke by telephone with his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul, to offer Israeli aid after the earthquake struck southeastern Turkey.
“At this difficult time, Israel is willing to provide any aid required anywhere in Turkey, and at any time,” Peres told Gul, according to a statement released by his office.
Jerusalem Post staff and Reuters contributed to this report.