Photo Credit: IDF
IDF personnel prepare supplies for their mission to assist Turkey after a devastating set of two earthquakes in less than 12 hours, Feb. 6, 2023

A 150-member IDF search and rescue team of experts made final preparations Monday night to leave for the earthquake-struck areas of Turkey.


“Of these, a third are headquarters and intelligence and two-thirds have rescue, medical and engineering capabilities,” the commander of the IDF National Rescue Unit, Colonel (res.) Golan Vach told reporters in a briefing. “Upon landing, [we] will immediately begin the rescue and assistance mission,” he said.

Fire and rescue service personnel are joining the delegation as well, the IDF said. “The commander of the Search and Rescue Brigade, Lt. col. Elad Edri, is responsible for the logistics and field rescue assessments.”

The forces will work in cooperation with their Turkish counterparts and together with other delegations from around the world, the IDF said, adding that the delegation is prepared to deal with “extreme weather conditions.”

The Israeli delegation, scheduled to depart via Israel Air Force planes from the Nevatim Air Base in the Negev, was the second team from Israel to head for the devastated earthquake-struck areas in Turkey in what is being called “Operation Olive Branch.”

An initial, smaller IDF team was deployed earlier in the day; that team arrived the task of assessing the situation on the ground in advance of the larger delegation.

In addition, an IDF Medical Corps team is preparing for the possibility that it, too, may be sent to establish a field hospital in the affected area.

A separate team from Magen David Adom (MDA) is joining the Israeli delegation to Turkey. MDA representative Felix Lotan said the Israeli National Red Cross Society, as it is known abroad, work on assessing the humanitarian needs on the ground, and will join the response already being carried out by the Turkish Red Crescent Society.

“In addition to medical treatment, the population also requires shelter, blankets and food, and psychological support,” Lotan said. “MDA is prepared to assist with establishing tent camps for those left with no roof, to operate routine medical facilities, and to join any humanitarian response that might be requires.

“We have a great deal of experience from dealing with previous disaster events, including earthquakes, and the specialized MDA teams allocated to this disaster response will be a part of the national and international response during this event too.”

On the home front, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directed National Security Adviser and Director of the National Security (NSC) Council Tzachi Hanegbi to hold an assessment of the readiness of the State of Israel for earthquakes, in view of the day’s events.

Hanegbi “will convene the discussion at the earliest opportunity with the participation of all government ministries,” Netanyahu’s office said Monday night.

More than 2,300 people have so far been confirmed dead in Turkey and Syria as a result of the two earthquakes that struck their countries earlier in the day. Of those, at least 810 people have died in Syria. The death toll is expected to rise, with hundreds more people in both countries still trapped under the rubble, as snow and rain fall on the destruction.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.