CORRECTS SECOND PARAGRAPH; REVISES THIRD PARAGRAPH
By Enes Canli
RAMALLAH (AA) - Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said Thursday that the efforts of a Palestinian relief team sent to the Turkish province of Malatya following the Feb. 6 twin earthquakes were “a thank you for what Türkiye has done for Palestine.”
Al-Maliki spoke to Anadolu about rescue efforts carried out for eight days by the Palestinian team that reached Malatya on Feb. 9.
Palestine sent 35 rescuers from the Palestine Emergency Response and Rescue Team, who had past experience in dealing with disasters in other areas such as Indonesia, Pakistan, and Latin America.
Noting that the Palestinian team moved to the earthquake zone quickly, al-Maliki told Anadolu that “although Palestine is under occupation, it will not cease to do what is necessary for its Turkish brothers."
“The efforts of the Palestinian team for the earthquake victims are a ‘thank you’ from the Palestinian administration and people to Türkiye and the Turkish people for what they have done for Palestine for so many years,” he added.
Al-Maliki pointed out that Palestine’s participation in the international rescue activities “was due to its desire to be a part of international solidarity.”
Al-Maliki said it was a “great honor” for the Palestinians to be able to help the earthquake victims in these difficult conditions.
He said “some of the earthquake victims were Palestinian citizens,” noting that “natural disasters do not spare anyone.”
He stressed that “the Palestinian rescue team rushed to help all victims regardless of their religion, language or race.”
“The presence of Palestinians in Türkiye shows the fraternity of the Turkish and Palestinian peoples. We will not forget the love of the Turkish people,” he added.
The Palestinian team included civil defense personnel competent in search and rescue and health personnel from the Health Ministry specializing in trauma and emergency health services, in addition to other personnel for shelter and post-traumatic psychological support.
Palestinian Civil Defense team leader Raed Kazmouz pointed out that more than 250 buildings were destroyed in Malatya.
He said that “as civil defensemen, they carried out search-and-rescue work with Turkish teams in the wreckage but unfortunately could not save anyone.”
Kazmouz said his team worked up to 16 hours a day and that "everyone welcomed us, both the official teams and the people.”
“When people learned that we came from Palestine, they thanked us, which only pushed us to do our best to help them,” he added.
Palestinian Red Crescent team leader Ibrahim Abudalo said that conditions in the earthquake area were very difficult.
Abudalo said they carried out activities such as evacuation, first aid, shelter and post-traumatic psychological support, and provided food.
The Palestinian official emphasized that they had not witnessed such destruction despite previously participating in earthquake relief efforts in other regions .
“The love our Turkish brothers showed us was very heartwarming. We will never forget it,” Abudalo said.
On Feb. 6, two powerful earthquakes – magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 – struck southern Türkiye.
The massive tremors, centered in Kahramanmaras province, also shook 10 other provinces – Hatay, Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Malatya, Adana, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Osmaniye, Sanliurfa, and Elazig.
More than 45,000 people were killed in the earthquakes and some 13.5 million people have been affected, with thousands of buildings destroyed.
* Ikram Imane Kouachi contributed to this report.