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Israel is trying to win a PR battle through its fake rescue mission in Turkiye

February 10, 2023 at 10:55 am

Workers load the Aegean plane with medical supplies with humanitarian aid to Turkiye. [Costas Baltas – Anadolu Agency]

Following the devastating magnitude 7.8 earthquake ripped through Turkiye and Syria on Monday, dozens of countries rushed to offer humanitarian assistance to help rescue survivors, treat the wounded and shelter the displaced.

Israel was among them, with its army’s rescue teams dispatched to earthquake-stricken southeastern Turkiye. The Israeli occupation army said that its rescue team consisted of several delegations, each with a special mission.

The Israeli occupation Defence Ministry and Foreign Ministry, which run the rescue delegations together, named the initiative “Operation Olive Branches”.

Ankara has only recently reinstated its diplomatic relations with Israel, allowing politicians from both sides to resume contact, but the Turkish people continue to see Tel Aviv as an enemy. Now, Israel is desperately striving to win a PR battle.

The Israeli occupation’s leaders expressed their sorrow and sadness following the devastation caused by the natural disaster in Turkiye and Syria, but where were these leaders when they ordered their army to cause similar disasters in the Gaza Strip in 2008/9, 2012, 2014, 2018 and 2021? Dozens of Palestinian residential buildings, including high rises, were bombed by the Israeli occupation warplanes and collapsed over the heads of their residents.

Current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the attacks on Gaza in 2012, 2014 and 2021. While 2014 was one of the bloodiest years in Palestinian history due to the attacks Israel launched on Gaza in July under the orders of Netanyahu’s government. A UN report said that the Israeli army hit Gaza with 6,000 rockets and nearly 50,000 tank and artillery shells for 51 days. In Israel’s attacks, 2,251 Palestinians, including 551 children and 299 women, were martyred, more than 11,000 people injured, and over 1,500 children left orphaned.

During the offensive, 28,366 houses were damaged, some completely and others partially. Some 65,000 Palestinians were left homeless, while basic infrastructure was badly damaged.

In 2019, Benny Gantz, who was Netanyahu’s chief of staff in 2014 and who is often referred to as a ‘dove of peace’ especially when compared to the current right-wing government, boasted that “parts of Gaza were sent back to the Stone Age” during the offensive and that thousands of Palestinians had been killed.

Commenting on the Israeli occupation’s killing of ten Palestinians in Jenin last month, Israeli MK Almog Cohen said: “Nice and professional work of the combatants in Jenin. Continue killing them [the Palestinians].”

It is difficult to know exactly how many Palestinians Israeli leaders have killed and how many have bragged about the destruction they have caused to the lives of Palestinians. These examples simply provide a snapshot of Israeli officials’ views of the treatment of Palestinians.

While in Turkiye, the Israeli occupation army said its delegation “will establish a field hospital and focus on providing medical treatment using advanced equipment brought in from Israel.” Its actions will never wipe away the damage it caused in Gaza, its targeting of hospitals in the Strip and ambulances in the occupied West Bank. Providing aid to Turkiye will not wash away memories of patients being forced to flee the Abu Youssef Al-Najjar Hospital in 2014 either on the shoulders of their relatives or while being pushed in wheelchairs or hospital beds.

If the Israeli occupation is concerned by the humanitarian situation in such a devastated area, then why does it not allow Palestinians in Gaza to access healthcare abroad or even in the occupied West Bank? And why does it not allow medical equipment or medicines into the besieged enclave?

There is immense irony in an Israeli army delegation heading out to rescue victims of a natural disaster, when the Israeli army itself is responsible for endless disasters, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and ten Turkish citizens who were  trying to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Israel will not succeed in altering the barbaric image it has drawn of itself throughout the decades since its establishment. Its hands are stained with the blood of countless Palestinians, Arabs and international supporters of the Palestinian cause.

READ: Hamas hails ICJ for voting over illegality of Israel occupation

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.