Israel offers Turkey aid after quake, Gul believes Israel’s help is not needed

Related: The Mavi Marmara Massacre | Category: Flotilla

Maan News Agency | Updated October 24, 2011

JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israel said Sunday it had offered its assistance to Turkey after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck the eastern part of the country, despite ongoing tensions between the formerly close allies.

But Turkey had said that for the time being, they would not need it.

“I am under the impression the Turks do not want our help,” Israeli Defense Minister Barak told the country’s Channel 2 News. “Right now (their answer) is negative but if they see they need more aid and don’t have it, or if they rethink it, we have made the offer and remain prepared (to help),” he said.

A Turkish foreign ministry official said later that Turkey had received offers of help from dozens of countries after the quake, and had so far declined assistance from all of them.

The Israeli embassy in Ankara has also offered the Turkish government humanitarian aid, the Israeli foreign ministry said in a statement.

An embassy spokesman in Ankara said Israeli President Shimon Peres has called his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul, adding: “Peres expressed his sympathy regarding the recent earthquake and offered any help needed.”

During the telephone conversation, Peres offered the Israeli assistance and Gul responded: “For the time being we don’t believe that any help will be needed. We can manage it,” the spokesman told AFP.

Eastern Turkey was struck by a 7.3 magnitude earthquake on Sunday afternoon, which the country’s seismological institute said may have killed between 500 and 1,000 people.

Ties between Israel and Turkey, once strong allies, have been strained since May 2010, when Israeli naval commandos stormed a flotilla trying to sail to Gaza in defiance of a blockade, killing nine Turks.

The crisis deepened last month, with Turkey expelling the Israeli ambassador and axing military ties and defense trade.

But despite the frayed relations, the two countries have maintained a tradition of offering each other assistance in times of need.

In December, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent firefighting planes to Israel to help tame a forest fire which killed 44 people, and sent aid to victims of the blaze.

In 1999, relations between the two countries 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.

Reuters contributed to this report


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