Israel is preparing to send aid to Turkey in the wake of a powerful earthquake that hit the east of the country. The Foreign Ministry said that the scope of the assistance depends on Ankara's willingness to accept it.
According to reports, up to 1,000 could be dead due to the 7.2-magnitue quake that struck the Van province Sunday. Turkey's deputy prime minister said that around 45 buildings have collapsed in the town of Ercis and the city of Van. Ercis sits on a geological fault line.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has asked the head of the Political-Military Affairs Division at the ministry, Amos Gilad, to offer Turkey "all the help that it needs."
Buildings collapse in quake
Meanwhile, IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz instructed the army to get ready to aid the quake-stricken region. Gantz said that an IDF delegation will head to Turkey as soon as it receives approval from the government.
The Foreign Ministry is also looking into sending help, in coordination with the Home Front Command. Considering the strained ties between Israel and Turkey, the ministry said that any such assistance would depend on Ankara's willingness to accept it.
Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon, who is visiting Germany, said that "Israel is always ready to help when natural disasters strike."
A final authorization on the issue would have to come from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
President Shimon Peres called Turkey's President Abdullah Gul to express his condolences over the deaths caused by the quake. He also reiterated Israel's offer for humanitarian aid.
"I speak as a person, a Jew and an Israeli, who remembers and is fully aware of the extent of the historic relations between our two peoples," he said. "On behalf of our nation I send my condolences to the families of the victims. In this trying time, Israel is willing to provide any necessary aid anywhere and anytime."
Gul thanked Peres, and said that Turkey is currently estimating the extent of damage. He added that he hoped the Turkish search and rescue forces will be able to handle the relief efforts.
Despite the diplomatic crisis between the two nations, which was triggered by last year's Gaza flotilla incident, Turkey sent Israel several firefighting planes that aided in putting out the massive blaze that broke out in the Carmel Forest last December.
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