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Israel prepares earthquake aid for Turkey

JTA

October 23, 2011 | 1:25 pm

Rescue workers rescue people trapped under debris after an earthquake in a village near the eastern Turkish city of Van on Oct. 23. Photo by REUTERS/Ali Ihsan Ozturk /Anadolu Agency

Rescue workers rescue people trapped under debris after an earthquake in a village near the eastern Turkish city of Van on Oct. 23. Photo by REUTERS/Ali Ihsan Ozturk /Anadolu Agency

Israel has offered to send aid to Turkey following a strong earthquake that has collapsed buildings and reportedly left hundreds dead.

The scope of the aid in response to the earthquake that hit southeastern Turkey early Sunday will depend on Turkey’s willingness to accept it, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry. Diplomatic relations between the two countries are now nearly nonexistent.

The temblor, which measured 7.3, was felt in central Tel Aviv, Haaretz reported.

Israel’s Defense Ministry also has been in contact with Turkish officials. An Israel Defense Forces delegation is preparing to leave for Turkey as soon as it receives clearance, according to reports.

Diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey have deteriorated since nine Turkish nationals, including a Turkish-American dual citizen, were killed in May 2010 during an Israeli raid on a Turkish-flagged aid flotilla attempting to break Israel’s naval blockade on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Turkey has demanded an Israeli apology for the deaths and compensation to the victims’ families.

Israel has offered its “regret” for the deaths, and has said that its naval commandos fired in self-defense. Relations had been going downhill since the 2008-09 Gaza war.

Turkey sent several firefighting airplanes to Israel last December to help battle the massive Carmel Forest fire.

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