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Israel to Aid Turkey After Quake

Despite the deep freeze in relations between Jerusalem and Anarka, the IDF will be flying equipment to Turkey to aid in rescue operations.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 10/25/2011, 9:04 PM

Israel will be flying specialized equipment to Turkey to aid Istanbul's rescue and recovery efforts following a deadly 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit the country's Van district on Sunday.

According to the Ministry of Defense the decision came after a request from Turkish officials, which was subsequently approved by Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The ministry did not specify what equipment was being loaned to Turkey.

Turkish officials had initially said they required no aid in dealing with the effects of the disaster.

According to Turkish authorities, the death toll from the earthquake rose to 432 on Tuesday, and it expected to continue rising. Some 2,262 buildings collapsed in the wake and large numbers of local residents are still missing.

On Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday evening to personally offer assistance with the recovery efforts from the devastating earthquake, as well as to express his "condolences."

Erdogan thanked Netanyahu for his concern and for the offer of support, said the official.

It was reportedly the first contact between Netanyahu and Erdogan since the diplomatic row that erupted between Anarka and Jerusalem in the wake of the UN Palmer Report on the 2010 Mavi Marmara “Gaza Flotilla” incident.

The report, which described Israel's naval blockade on Hamas-run Gaza as a "legal and appropriate" means of interdicting the flow of arms to the Hamas run enclave. Israel agreed to "express remorse" for the deaths of 9 Turkish nationals who were killed while trying to lynch Israeli naval commandos who had boarded the ship in accordance with international maritime law, but refused to apologize.

Since then relations between Israel and Turkey have chilled to the point where officials in both capitals have stopped referring to one another as 'allies' amid a torrent of bellicose rhetoric and reckless posturing on Erdogan's part.

Last December, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan dispatched firefighting planes to Israel to help tame forest fires which killed 44 people, and sent aid to victims of the blaze.

In 1999, relations between the Anarka and Jerusalem were cemented in part by the aid which Israel sent to assist in the aftermath of two massive earthquakes in northwest Turkey that killed some 20,000 people.

It is unclear if Israel's current gesture with serve to warm relations presently in deep freeze.