Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen landed in Turkey on Tuesday morning for a solidarity visit following the deadly earthquakes that killed tens of thousands of people in that country and Syria.
Cohen was slated to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to extend “the condolences of all Israelis.”
“Israel stands alongside Turkey at this difficult time and will continue to assist it through the activities of our forces and providing of humanitarian aid,” said Cohen.
Soon after touching down, Cohen met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, and later will tour the field hospital Israel has set up in the country.
The Israel Defense Forces’ “Operation Olive Branches” search and rescue mission in Turkey saved 19 people from the rubble caused by the massive earthquakes, among them children, as well as Syrian refugees.
The IDF sent 230 medical and emergency response experts to set up a field hospital in Kahramanmaraş, in addition to a 150-member Home Front Command team.
The IDF delegation was supported by emergency medical specialists from the defense and health ministries, fire and rescue services, Magen David Adom, United Hatzalah and Zaka, among others.
On Friday evening, Israeli rescue teams pulled a nine-year-old boy from under a collapsed building after he had been trapped for more than 120 hours.
The medical team at the field hospital has treated hundreds of people.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week commended the IDF’s humanitarian work as a mission of the “highest order.”
“You are representing the mission with the most experience on the international level. You have much experience, which has proven itself. You are carrying out a humanitarian mission of the highest order and are bringing much honor to us and the State of Israel and are showing Israel’s true face to the world,” said Netanyahu.
President Isaac Herzog in early January accepted the credentials of Ankara’s new ambassador to Israel, Şakir Özkan Torunlar, who was named to the position in October. The previous month, Israeli Ambassador to Turkey Irit Lillian presented her credentials to Erdoğan, taking up a post that had been vacant for four years.
The Turkish diplomat, who served as consul general in Jerusalem (and “ambassador” to the Palestinian Authority) between 2010 and 2013, was the first to assume the position since Erdoğan in 2018 withdrew Turkey’s ambassador from Israel and ousted Jerusalem’s top envoy amid fighting between the IDF and Palestinians along the Gaza border.
“It is no secret that the State of Israel attaches great importance to our historic relationship with Turkey, as do I personally. It is a relationship that has known crises in the past but is now, to our delight, on a very encouraging trajectory. Israel and Turkey can and must cooperate in many fields that will bring progress and growth for both countries and both nations,” said Herzog at the time.
Jerusalem and Ankara announced in August the restoration of full relations.