Israel offers aid to Turkey after earthquake

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 23, 2011 11:49 AM
Israel offers aid to Turkey after earthquake

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel offered aid to its former strategic ally Turkey Sunday after a powerful earthquake struck the southeast of the country.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel was willing to provide "anything from food, medicine, medical staff and equipment and search-and-rescue teams." He said Israel was awaiting Ankara's reply.

Relations between Israel and Turkey have been frayed since Israeli commandoes killed nine Turks during a raid on an aid flotilla bound for the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip in 2010.

Tensions rose last month when Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador after Israel refused to apologize for the killings, saying its marines acted in self-defense in confrontations with pro-Palestinian activists on one of the vessels.

Despite their fraught relations, Turkey in December sent fire-fighting planes to help Israel battle a brush fire that killed 41 people.

In southeast Turkey, emergency workers battled to rescue people trapped in buildings in the city of Van and surrounding districts near the border with Iran. A local official said many people were killed or injured and tents and rescue teams were needed urgently.

(Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Michael Roddy)