Palestinians extend a helping hand to quake-hit Turkey and Syria

The team will be travelling to Jordan, where it will divide equally into two groups headed to southern Turkey and northwest Syria.

Emad Zuhairi, head of PICA, said that despite growing needs at home, his team could not but respond to the call for help.

The team included rescuers from the Palestinian Civil Defence, the Ministry of Health and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.

Established in 2016, PICA has participated in various rescue operations abroad – most recently in Pakistan, following devastating floods.

Its mission is expected to last 10 days but could be extended according to need.

Israel controls border crossings in and out of the occupied West Bank, making it necessary for Palestinian rescue teams to coordinate with the Israeli government.

“We would have loved to bring with us some heavy equipment, but unfortunately, this is not possible,” he said. Instead, the team will be using individual kits containing only essential equipment.

Brigadier Odeh Yunis, from the Palestinian Civil Defence, said the organisation was sending 32 people from among its ranks to respond to the “catastrophe”.

Their main mission was to extract people from under the rubble and provide medical assistance to the injured, Yunis said.

His office was also planning a response to potential local earthquakes after the Palestinian territories recorded a magnitude-3.5 tremor.

“Due to the Israeli occupation, we do not have direct borders with the international community,” he said. “We are working with our colleagues from the European Union and in the region to arrange a response in case of a big emergency.”

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