Operation Olive Branch is underway as Israel’s 150 trained IDF recusers are in Turkey. This is Israel’s 31th humanitarian mission in the past 40 years.
By YONAH JEREMY BOB
150 IDF rescue personnel took off for Turkey to assist with the earthquake disaster response as part of Operation Olive Branch.
IDF Home Front Command foreign rescue chief Col. Golan Voch told a briefing of military reporters on Monday night, “We are ready to leave in the coming hours. We are a special small rescue staff of 150 specialists.”
But he said, “This is not the first Home Front Command foreign rescue mission. This is the thirty-first mission in 40 years.”
“A great opportunity to help our neighbors”
“We have the great opportunity to help our neighbors after hundreds of them were killed and thousands have been injured. This is a great disaster. We also have not experienced anything like this [recently] – the last big earthquake was 13 years ago. We will do everything we can to save Turkish citizens,” said Voch.
תיעוד מהערכות משלחת צה״ל “ענפי זית” בבסיס נבטים, מאתמול בלילה: pic.twitter.com/3jB4FPWUlB
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) February 7, 2023
Next, Voch said, “Our intelligence has selected three locations where we can optimize our assistance.” All three locations are four hours or less from the airport.
Further, he said, “Our intelligence knows how to carry out excellent work and when we land [in Turkey], it will be clearer which areas we are servicing.”
The IDF colonel stated, “We are defined as an international search and rescue advisory group. Our size is viewed as significant. We are made up of one-third intelligence and logistics and two-thirds specialists in rescue, medical attention and engineering – so we have an operational focus.”
Asked if the IDF would set up a field hospital, Voch responded that the IDF could do so, but that so far the rescue team that is being sent is exactly what Turkey requested.
He added that in an earlier rescue mission to Turkey, a larger rescue group had been requested.
Will Israel help Syria?
A senior IDF official dismissed any rumors that the IDF had been asked to or might assist Syria with its difficulties from the earthquake.
Syria and Israel are still in a state of war, but the IDF and Israel did assist individual Syrians with medical assistance during certain points of the Syrian Civil War.
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