Dozens of Israelis went out to volunteer in the ruins in Turkey (Yoav Itiel)
The rescue mission of the Ihud Hetzala organization received a briefing upon its departure to the disaster-stricken area in Turkey, which was hit by yesterday's deadly earthquake.
The delegation has 41 staff members.
"The minimum we are returning with is 41 people," Yossi Cohen, one of the heads of the delegation, said before boarding the plane, emphasizing the issue of security and safety.
"The eyes of the whole world are on us and all the Israeli delegations - one man."
At the local airport near the center of the disaster, a direct passenger flight from Israel is no small matter.
The arrangement of all the landing permits for the plane, and the entry of the passengers and the equipment, were hurriedly arranged with the assistance of the Foreign Ministries of Israel and Turkey.
"Welcome to Gaziantep. We want to thank you for your courage, good luck to you," announced the flight attendant in English with a Russian accent upon landing.
"A sense of mission and helping others drives me."
The members of the delegation of the Rescue Union (photo: Yoav Itiel, photo processing)
One of the volunteers on the special flight chartered by Ihud Hatzla was Yehiel Gurfein, a 26-year-old self-employed bachelor from Jerusalem, a medic for Ihud Hatzla for six and a half years, and this is already his third expedition.
In addition to the experience he has on the ground in Jerusalem for the events department, he also assisted with Hurricane Ian in Miami during the week of the holidays.
When the war between Russia and Ukraine started last year, he went to Moldova as a vanguard force, and in the end was needed there for two and a half months.
Now he brings his experience to Turkey.
"At 12 at night they called to ask if I could join. It took me about a second and a half to hesitate, consider, check what needs to be moved in the diary - and say yes."
According to him, "First of all, the delegation needs to create basic conditions that will enable its work in the field. We don't really know what is there, what the conditions are, what is the state of the electrical infrastructure, water, vehicles, cellular reception."
What is not really talked about is still unknown.
Even the question of how desirable the Israeli delegation is in the eyes of the locals is not clear to them - will the Star of David flag on their coat sleeves create additional complexity, in a sector that is so close to the Syrian border and the organizations that smuggle it and operate beyond it?
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"First of all, we will have to create conditions that will allow the work in the field."
The ruins of the earthquake in Gaziantep, today (Photo: Reuters)
"A sense of mission and helping others motivates me every day and so also in this expedition," says Gurfein.
"On this trip, the challenge is of course the unusual scope and unusual complexity of the event."
Regarding aid in a Muslim country, he says: "It is an enormous privilege to represent the best in the State of Israel and to come to the aid of neighbors in one of their most difficult hours. Without politics and without interests. All this is aside and not interesting at all. We hope and believe that we will be able to save lives and help in whatever way possible."
The chartered flight was conducted in a special plane of Ihud Hatzala - the national volunteer organization and the Sun Dor airline from Beit El Al, and in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Israeli Embassy in Turkey.
The delegation is commanded by Major Yossi Cohen of the Rescue Union.
The members of the delegation are doctors, paramedics and volunteer medics of the Rescue Union, volunteers of the Hosan (emergency and psychological aid) unit of the organization and volunteers of the Israeli rescue units.
The third expedition he joins.
Gurfein (photo: Yoav Itiel, photo processing)
More on the subject:
Sheeran Franco, who was rescued from the ruins of the earthquake in Turkey in 1999: "I was afraid for my children today"
The earthquake hit war-torn Syria hard: "like in the apocalypse"
Only health: this way you will continue the routine of life without worrying about your health
From Gaziantep International Airport, the delegation continues south towards the city of Hatay, where the members of the delegation will immediately begin establishing a special medical center, community clinics in the field, providing medical assistance and helping to rescue the trapped. In addition, the logistics team will transport the 10 tons of equipment that was specially brought from Israel and will greatly assist the medical forces and the rescue at the scene of the disaster.
The delegation before boarding the plane (photo: Yoav Itiel, photo editing)
The Rescue Union has extensive experience in providing life-saving assistance in disasters of this scale in Israel and around the world, including the great earthquake in Nepal in 2017, the disaster of the building collapse in Surfside Miami, and more.
Eli Polak, CEO of Ihud Hatzala said: "In coordination with the ministers of foreign affairs, security and health, an Ihud Hatzala delegation of about 30 medical personnel took off to the scene of the disaster.
The delegation will stay there as long as requested and will provide medical and psychological assistance.
In addition, the delegation brings with it about 10 tons of equipment that will greatly assist the emergency forces in the field."
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