Europe 1 with AFP 5:12 p.m., February 12, 2023
Referring to a "serious threat" to the safety of its team on site, the Israeli relief NGO United Hatzalah announced on Sunday the cessation of its operations in Turkey.
However, she declined to elaborate on the nature of the threat or the source of the information.
The Israeli relief NGO United Hatzalah announced on Sunday the cessation of its operations in Turkey due to a "serious threat" to the safety of its team there.
The organization announced in a press release its decision to "finish its mission and return to Israel as soon as possible" because of "a serious threat against the Israeli relief mission in Turkey".
United Hatzalah originally posted the decision on Twitter before deleting the post.
In recent days, rescuers have been sharing videos and photos of their rescue operations in Kahramanmaras, the epicenter of the earthquake in Turkey, on social media.
“We have unfortunately received information on a concrete and immediate threat against the Israeli delegation and we must prioritize the safety of our staff,” explains the NGO.
A human toll that could double
But she declined to elaborate on the nature of the threat or the source of the information.
Israeli army rescue teams continue their rescue and care operations in Turkey where they have field hospitals, the Israeli embassy in Ankara told AFP.
Magen David Adom, the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross, also continues to work in Turkey, a spokesperson told AFP.
- Isolation, jihadism, rivalries... Why is it so difficult to help the Syrian victims of the earthquake?
The toll of the violent earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria on Monday rose to more than 33,179 dead on Sunday: more than 29,605 dead in southern Turkey and more than 3,500 in Syria.
According to the UN, the balance sheet could "double".
The Israeli NGO's announcement comes as the Austrian army and a German association had temporarily taken a similar decision.
The Austrian army suspended its rescue operations in Turkey for a few hours on Saturday, citing "the security situation" there.
"There have been attacks between groups," an army spokesman in Vienna told AFP, without further details.
But on Saturday afternoon, two Austrian dog handlers were able to resume the search "under the protection of the Turkish army", according to an army spokesman in Vienna.