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Palestinians join earthquake rescue efforts in Syria, Turkey

The Palestinian Authority joins more than 60 countries sending rescue teams to Turkey and Syria in response to the earthquake.
A Palestinian relief team poses for a picture before their departure to Syria and Turkey.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) dispatched rescuers to Syria and Turkey on Thursday in response to the massive earthquake this Monday. 

The teams deployed on orders from PA President Mahmoud Abbas. They first went to Jordan before traveling to Syria and Turkey. The Palestinian Health Ministry, the Palestinian Red Crescent and the Palestinian civil defense provided personnel for the teams, according to the PA’s official WAFA news agency. 



Turkey’s official Anadolu Agency reported Thursday that 35 Palestinian rescuers traveled to Turkey. 

A strong earthquake hit Turkey and Syria early Monday morning, followed by several severe aftershocks. More than 20,000 people have been confirmed dead so far. 

Why it matters: Over 60 countries have sent rescuers to Turkey along with aid and other forms of assistance. Syria, however, has received relatively less help. Reasons for this include supply chain and logistical issues as well as international opposition to working with the Syrian government, Elizabeth Hagedorn reported for Al-Monitor this week. 

Only a handful of countries are confirmed to have sent rescuers to Syria. Syrian state media reported Tuesday that an Algerian civil protection team arrived at Aleppo’s airport. 

The Russian state-run RT reported Monday that Russia dispatched more than 100 emergency specialists to Syria and Turkey. 

Iran’s semi-official Mehr News Agency published a video Tuesday showing Iranian bulldozers sifting through rubble in Aleppo. 

The Popular Mobilization Units in Iraq (also known as Hashid Shaabi, which are predominantly Shiite volunteer militias) said they sent engineers, medical personnel and rescuers to Aleppo, the official Iraqi News Agency reported Wednesday. 

Lebanon also sent rescuers to neighboring Syria, according to Lebanese media reports. 

The Syrian White Helmets said in a statement Wednesday that Egypt sent a team of technicians and doctors to assist them. 

The official Saudi Press Agency reported Friday that the kingdom dispatched search and rescue teams to help with the recovery in Turkey and Syria. The teams landed in Turkey Friday, according to the agency. 

Armenian media outlets also reported that teams from the country deployed to Syria and Turkey. 

Palestinians sometimes have difficulty traveling abroad due to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank since 1967. Israel control their travel in and out of the territory. The West Bank also lacks an airport, hence the Palestinian rescuers needed to go to Jordan before transiting to Syria and Turkey. 

Palestinians rescuers have responded to similar crises in the past, despite those travel restrictions. A Palestinian team responded to the flooding in Pakistan last year, for example. 

The Palestinian rescue mission to Syria also demonstrates continued improvement in Palestinian-Syrian relations. Ties between the PA and the Syrian government were strained after the Syrian civil war began in 2011, but have gradually improved in recent years. A delegation from the Fatah party, which leads the PA, visited Damascus last year. 

Know more: Azerbaijan and Israel sent by far the most rescuers to Turkey with 725 and 450, respectively, according to Anadolu Agency. Azerbaijan and Turkey are close allies. Israel also helped Turkey following the 1999 earthquake there. 

Editor's note: this article was updated on Feb. 10, 2023 to include information on Saudi rescuers responding to the earthquake. 

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