Verified security threat: Israeli rescue mission flees Turkey

United Hatzalah rescue mission left Turkey early and returned to Israel on plane donated by philanthropist Miriam Adelson. 

By World Israel News Staff

Due to a significant security threat on the Israeli rescue and relief mission in Turkey, the United Hatzalah rescue mission left the country on Sunday.

Following a joint situational assessment with the heads of the IDF Home Front Command and Search and Rescue Units on Saturday night, United Hatzalah CEO Eli Pollack and Vice President of Operations Dov Maisel instructed Major (res.) Yossi Cohen, head of the organization’s rescue mission, to end the mission and return to Israel as quickly as possible.

Last Monday morning, at around 4 a.m., Turkey was hit with a massive earthquake that to date has claimed the lives of close to 30,000 people. Many more remain trapped under the rubble.

On Monday night, in an operation dubbed “Olive Branch,” Israel began sending rescue workers and emergency medical responders to Turkey, led by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry and Israel Defense Forces. Teams from Magen David Adom and United Hatzalah also sent relief teams.

Israel also agreed to send humanitarian aid to Syria, as requested by Russia.

On Sunday, upon confirmation of the threat, the team packed up their equipment and gear and made hasty arrangements to fly home at the earliest opportunity. Due to a lack of available planes, philanthropist Dr. Miriam Adelson donated her private jet to fly the team back to Israel already on Sunday.

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“We knew that there was a certain level of risk in sending our team to this area of Turkey, which is close to the Syrian border, but we took the necessary steps in order to mitigate the threat for the sake of our lifesaving mission,” Maisel said.

“Unfortunately, we have just received intelligence of a concrete and immediate threat on the Israeli delegation, and we have to put the security of our personnel first.

“We are extremely proud of what our team has accomplished in just a few days, assisting in the rescue of 15 individuals in cooperation with the IDF Home Front Command, Israel’s Search and Rescue units, local rescue forces, and the Turkish Red Cross,” he said.

In one case, for example, the United Hatzalah team, operating in sub-zero temperatures, saved a young girl trapped under debris for several days.

Maisel expressed gratitude to Adelson for “assisting us in bringing our people back quickly and safely.”