IDF chief to rescuers: You enhanced Israeli relations in region • Netanyahu: ‘You saved 19 worlds’
Turkish Ambassador to Israel Shakir Ozkan Torunlar on Monday said, “Thank you very much Israel” in an official Israeli ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport with the return of Israel’s rescue teams from saving 19 Turkish lives in Operation Olive Branch from the earthquake disaster.
Torunlar said, “southern turkey was hit with two major earthquakes on February 6…the largest national disaster of the past 100 years. 13.5 million people were affected, there were over 31,000 casualties and close to 100,000 wounded. But thanks to the friends of Turkey, many were saved by search and rescue teams in the field.”
“The government of Israel was among the first to provide its team. I salute all who were among those who landed in the disaster zone and immediately started their task. You saved 19 Turks…followed by a field hospital being erected in less than 24 hours and becoming operational.
He also complimented a wide variety of Israeli civil society and NGO groups who “displayed exemplary solidarity with the Turkish people.”
IDF chief: Three purposes for earthquake relief team
IDF chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said at the ceremony, “we all followed every rescue, every person you saved from a great human tragedy. The IDF and Israel are very proud of you.”
“When I asked about organizing a delegation, they told me that they were already organizing. People just heard there was an earthquake, and people were doing it on their own,” he said.
The IDF chief said that there were three purposes for the delegation, “to save people in desperate need, to become more professional for what could also happen here and relations in the region – our readiness to help others enhances partnerships,” with Israel’s regional neighbors.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the crowd of returned rescuers, “You saved 19 worlds… The nation of Israel followed your work with great pride. You brought great honor to the State of Israel.”
“We saw you working in the cold, in rough conditions around the clock. You did the hardest thing…You also showed the whole world the good and true face of the State of Israel: a small state with a giant soul that works to help people whoever they are, anywhere in the world in crazy conditions – with a supreme level of dedication,” said Netanyahu
The prime minister added, “Especially in these days, your service has more significance. You remind us we are one nation, with one fate and one future.”
IDF rescue commander Col. Golan Voch told a story about it taking, “30 hours to get to a nine-year-old child who was two floors underneath the ground level area.”
He said the paramedic who was providing first-aid to the child had lost a daughter in a car accident two years before but despite that personal tragedy. still found the emotional depth to calm the child.
Further, he added that when they brought the child up to ground level, the child’s uncle gave them a coin, saying it was symbolic to thank doctors who facilitate a child being born – as a metaphor for the child they had saved being essentially reborn.