Israeli aid efforts to Turkey and Syria have been multifaceted after the earthquake, despite the difficult political circumstances.
On February 6th, the devastating earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria prompted an outpouring of international aid to the affected areas. Although the crisis coincided with a complex political situation in Israel—including ongoing domestic protests, escalating tensions with the Palestinians, and a newly formed government working to establish its position—Israeli aid organizations became one of the first foreign aid responders on the ground. As is sometimes the case in the Middle East, crises become a moment for countries to demonstrate a different side and even perhaps a show of unity.
While Israel has long been active in emergency disaster relief missions in various countries around the world, four aspects of these current efforts are especially noteworthy. First, they involve both official teams from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and a range of relevant Israeli NGOs working in parallel. Second, some of those NGOs are actively partnering with NGOs from other regional countries, both Turkish and Arab. Third, several of these NGOs have committed to ongoing aid efforts past the immediate rescue and relief period to facilitate long-term reconstruction. And fourth, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s public announcement that part of Israel’s humanitarian aid would be delivered inside Syria marked a new development in its relationship with its northern neighbor—although the Assad regime refused such aid, and it is consequently being provided without publicity.Continue reading