Top Israeli general, in first Morocco visit, to explore defense deals

Top Israeli general, in first Morocco visit, to explore defense deals
Lt. General Aviv Kochavi said Morocco visit will involve knowledge-sharing, training and weapons development. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 18 July 2022

Top Israeli general, in first Morocco visit, to explore defense deals

Top Israeli general, in first Morocco visit, to explore defense deals
  • While Lt. General Aviv Kochavi’s trip has been showcased by Israel, Rabat has been trying to broker improved conditions for the Palestinians

JERUSALEM: The chief of Israel’s armed forces will visit Morocco on Monday in the highest-level public engagement between the countries, which upgraded ties in 2020 under a US diplomatic drive.
While Lt. General Aviv Kochavi’s trip has been showcased by Israel as part of emerging defense cooperation with the North African country, Rabat has also been trying to broker improved conditions for the Palestinians.
“One of the subjects that will be discussed (in Morocco) this week will be knowledge-sharing, training — the ability to train together in joint maneuvers — weapons development, the transfer of know-how and perhaps also of weaponry,” Israeli military spokesman Brig.-General Ran Kochav told Ynet TV.
There was no immediate comment from Rabat.
The Moroccan rapprochement with Israel followed its normalization deal with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, pacts that Washington, seeking closer cooperation among its allies to offset a rising Iran, dubbed the “Abraham Accords.”
Israel and Morocco established low-level relations in the 1990s but these had been suspended after a Palestinian uprising against Israel erupted in 2000. The upgrade of ties in 2020, which remains short of full normalization, has brought direct flights between the countries and a range of bilateral deals.
“Not everything is about security,” Israeli Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli told Reuters in an interview about relations with Morocco. “There are wide interests that we have together and we share.”
She credited Morocco with mediating a deal to permanently open a border crossing from Jordan to the Israeli-occupied West Bank that is important for Palestinian traffic, and said she was in talks with Rabat about other infrastructure projects.
“Morocco is the player that is able to bring everyone together, to soften everybody’s hardships around whatever issue there is,” Michaeli said. “They just have a way of speaking to everyone in a way that gets them around the table and gets them to cooperate.”
The Israeli military said it hosted a Moroccan commando unit for a multi-nation exercise in July 2021, established direct military ties with Rabat in March 2022 and, last month, hosted Moroccan top brass to agree on a year-long joint work program.


Doctor says bodies “everywhere” in collapsed Iskenderun hospital

Doctor says bodies “everywhere” in collapsed Iskenderun hospital
Updated 9 sec ago

Doctor says bodies “everywhere” in collapsed Iskenderun hospital

Doctor says bodies “everywhere” in collapsed Iskenderun hospital
ISKENDERUN, Turkiye: Rescue teams and survivors peered through the twisted remains of an Iskenderun hospital on Tuesday, searching for signs of life a day after a major earthquake struck Turkiye and neighboring Syria.
There was little among the debris to suggest the building was a busy medical facility less than two days before.
One of the hospital’s surviving physicians, who identified himself only as Dr. Deveci, said he found the scene at his workplace hard to witness.
“I’m devastated. I see bodies inside, everywhere. Although I’m used to seeing bodies because of my expertise, it’s very difficult for me,” he said.
Much of Iskenderun, a port city located in Turkiye’s southern Hatay province, lay in ruins after the magnitude 7.8 quake hit just after 4 a.m. on Monday. More than 1,200 buildings were destroyed in Hatay alone.
“A doctor said there are about 15 people here, including the patients,” taxi driver Kerim Sahin said as he looked for a colleague in one part of the hospital.
“At the moment, they’re all trapped inside. Nobody can go near the building, only one cabinet is supporting the third floor.”
Sahin said the scale of the damage meant further rescue efforts were reliant on excavation equipment arriving from nearby cities.
The death toll in Turkiye had risen to 3,549 people, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday as he declared a state of emergency in 10 provinces. In Syria, the toll stood at just over 1,700, with tens of thousands injured or left homeless in several Turkish and Syrian cities.
Turkish authorities say more than 12,000 search and rescue personnel are working in the affected areas, plus another 9,000 troops.

UAE pledges $100 million in quake relief to Syria, Turkiye

A Syrian family is pictured in front of an emergency shelter in the center of the city of Maarat Misrin, Idlib. (AFP)
A Syrian family is pictured in front of an emergency shelter in the center of the city of Maarat Misrin, Idlib. (AFP)
Updated 2 min 24 sec ago

UAE pledges $100 million in quake relief to Syria, Turkiye

A Syrian family is pictured in front of an emergency shelter in the center of the city of Maarat Misrin, Idlib. (AFP)
  • The sum would be equally split between Syria and Turkiye, with each getting $50 million
  • It was not immediately clear if the funds for Syria included the $13.6 million previously announced

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates Tuesday pledged $100 million to Syria and Turkiye, one of the largest sums yet following a massive earthquake that killed more than 5,400 people across both countries.
The oil-rich Gulf nation — which had already pledged some $13.6 million to Syria — is spearheading regional relief efforts, having dispatched planes to both countries with relief items and rescue teams following the 7.8-magnitude quake that struck early Monday.
On Tuesday, Emirati President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan “ordered the provision of $100 million for the relief of those affected,” Emirates News Agency said.
The sum would be equally split between Syria and Turkiye, with each getting $50 million, according to the news agency.
It was not immediately clear if the funds for Syria included the $13.6 million previously announced.
Major General Saleh Al-Ameri, commander of joint operations at the UAE’s defense ministry, said Tuesday that three military planes had been dispatched to Turkiye, carrying search and rescue teams who have since commenced operations.
A total of seven flights are planned to the quake-hit countries, including two to the Syrian capital Damascus, he told local media.
Syria’s official SANA news agency said Tuesday that an Emirati plane carrying 10 tons of food supplies had arrived at the Damascus international airport.
The UAE reopened its embassy in the Syrian capital in December 2018.
In March last year, Assad made a visit to the UAE — his first to an Arab state in more than a decade of brutal civil war.


3 Yemeni families buried under quake rubble in Turkiye

3 Yemeni families buried under quake rubble in Turkiye
Updated 23 min 23 sec ago

3 Yemeni families buried under quake rubble in Turkiye

3 Yemeni families buried under quake rubble in Turkiye
  • No deaths have been reported among at least 300 Yemenis living in earthquake-hit centers in Turkiye
  • The Yemeni Embassy and the union have set up emergency facilities and hotlines

AL-MUKALLA: Rescuers are trying desperately to reach three Yemeni families buried under earthquake rubble in a southern Turkish city, authorities said on Tuesday.
The disaster that killed thousands in Syria and Turkiye on Monday has also left at least 50 Yemenis injured and their property destroyed.
A spokesperson for the Yemen Students Union in Turkiye, Anas Al-Mazabi, told Arab News that a woman had been pulled from the wreckage of a building as rescuers continued attempts to save three Yemeni families buried under debris in Malatya in the south of the country.
No deaths have been reported among at least 300 Yemenis living in earthquake-hit centers in Turkiye.
The Yemeni Embassy and the union have set up emergency facilities and hotlines, and asked Yemenis to report any missing relatives or friends.
Al-Mazabi said that a special operations center is monitoring information and maintaining contact with Yemenis trapped in regions devastated by the earthquake.
An aid team has been sent to Hatay province and an evacuation team to Iskenderun to help Yemenis, he added.
Hotlines have been swamped with calls from anxious Yemenis in Turkiye and Yemen searching for relatives and friends after earthquake-affected regions experienced Internet and mobile phone blackouts.
“We attempted to comfort them about the situation and (told them) that if their children do not respond, it is because communication has been disrupted and does not imply that their circumstances are awful,” Al-Mazabi said.
Official Yemeni media said that Rashad Al-Alimi, president of the Presidential Leadership Council, and other council members phoned the Yemeni Ambassador to Turkiye, Mohammed Saleh, for an update on the situation facing Yemenis and ordered him to offer all required help.
Thousands of Yemenis, including politicians, tribal leaders, military personnel and journalists, fled to Turkiye and nearby countries after the Iran-backed Houthis took control in Yemen in 2014.
Hundreds of Yemeni students attend Turkish institutions around the country.
Separately, Al-Alimi reiterated his council’s commitment to helping a UN mission establish peace in Yemen and secure a comprehensive agreement to end the war.
During a meeting with UN Yemen envoy Hans Grundberg in Aden, Al-Alimi called for greater international pressure on the Houthis to comply with efforts to end the war.
Grundberg landed in the city on Tuesday as he embarked on a fresh mission to push for a renewal of the UN-brokered truce that collapsed in October and to persuade Yemeni factions to embrace a peace agreement.
The UN envoy’s arrival in Yemen follows a visit to Riyadh, where he discussed peace efforts, and economic and humanitarian operations with the GCC Secretary General Jasem Al-Budaiwi and the Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Al-Jabir.
Attempts to restore peace in Yemen suffered a severe blow in October when the Houthis refused to extend the UN-brokered truce or open roads to the besieged city of Taiz.
The militia also launched drone attacks on oil installations in southern Yemen in an attempt to force the Yemeni government to share oil profits and pay public workers in regions they control.


Survivors ‘praying for miracles’ as Turkiye steps up quake rescue efforts

Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a state of emergency for three months
Mesut Hancer holds the hand of his 15-year-old daughter Irmak, who died in the earthquake in Kahramanmaras. (AFP)
Updated 07 February 2023

Survivors ‘praying for miracles’ as Turkiye steps up quake rescue efforts

Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a state of emergency for three months
  • Heavy rain and snow are hindering efforts to save thousands of people trapped under rubble
  • Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a state of emergency for three months

ANKARA: Turkiye is praying for a miracle as the search continues for survivors of a massive earthquake that devastated southern regions of the country.

Heavy rain and snow are hindering efforts to save thousands of people trapped under rubble as the death toll continues to climb.

More than 5,000 people were killed and 15,000 injured in Turkiye and neighboring Syria when the magnitude 7.8 quake and a series of aftershocks struck in the early hours of Monday.

Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a state of emergency for three months in areas affected by the earthquake, the most severe in the country for 80 years.

The death toll in Turkiye stands at 3,500, with over 22,000 injured and 6,000 buildings destroyed. More than 8,000 survivors have been hauled from the ruins of collapsed buildings.

Authorities warn the number of dead will continue to rise.

Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a state of emergency for three months. (AFP)

Turkiye has announced one week of national mourning and allocated $5.3 billion in emergency aid, while Turkish Airlines has carried more than 11,000 volunteers to the quake zone.

Tens of thousands of aid workers and emergency personnel have been sent to the affected area as part of national and international humanitarian assistance, with more 70 nations offering help.

Firat Gerger, a lawyer in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa, drove his wife and children to their country house after surviving the quake before returning to the city center to join rescue efforts.

“I began evacuating guests from the hotel I own in the Haliliye district of Urfa. Then we noticed that the columns of the building next to my hotel were cracking. The building tilted to one side. We quickly surrounded the building with ropes and moved away nearby cars,” he told Arab News.

Thousands of buildings have toppled to the ground withthousands trapped inside. (AFP)

Gerger and his team climbed through a window into a veterinary surgery on the first floor of the building to rescue animals trapped inside.

However, their attempts to get a refugee family to leave their third-floor apartment ended in tragedy when the building collapsed shortly afterwards.

“We even threw a stone at their window to attract their attention,” he said. “The old building collapsed in seconds under a cloud of dust like in a horror movie,” he said.

The refugees were the only people to remain in the building after calls for evacuation. The bodies of five members of the family were found following the rescue operation.

Millions of Syrian refugees who fled the war in their country now live in the region.

Local people say that many buildings were not built to required standards to withstand earthquakes, and were never inspected properly.

New buildings, even those built only months ago, collapsed in the quake.

Serdar Ozsoy, a photojournalist who reached the port city of Iskenderun yesterday, was in the hard-hit Kirikhan district in Hatay province after the quake struck.

“It is one of the most affected zones. The damage is so widespread that rescue teams cannot be organized effectively. Today the humanitarian assistance seems much better than yesterday. I saw so many tents arriving for survivors. But the rain keeps falling and hampering rescue efforts,” he said.

There have been hundreds of aftershocks. (AFP)

“The first day was critical to find survivors under the collapsed buildings. But now the chances to rescue people are diminishing, apart from miracle cases.”

Ozsoy said that he had talked to a survivor whose house had been ransacked while he was at the cemetery burying his mother.

“The thieves found a golden opportunity to break into his house and steal anything precious,” he said.

Rescue teams from Uzbekistan reached Kirikhan district early on Tuesday, while other international rescuers, including from EU countries, are working across the region.

Turkiye’s Red Crescent is also providing tents and blankets, along with mobile kitchens.

In Hatay, thousands of survivors are sheltering in their cars amid fears of further aftershocks.

“There is an urgent need for cash because there is no electricity and no ATM to draw money,” Ozsoy said.

For many survivors have been left without shelter in the freezing temperatures. (AFP)

In other cities, such as southeastern Gaziantep, stocks of essential items are running low.

Ugur Poyraz, general secretary of the IYI Party, said there is no bread because natural gas supplies to the city were hit by the quake.

“Some local people are trying to distribute soup to the survivors with their own facilities,” he said.

In Hatay, Ghanaian football player Christian Atsu, who made 107 appearances for English Premier League side Newcastle and is now playing for the Turkish club Hatayspor, was rescued from a collapsed building.

Damaged roads, a fire that erupted in Iskenderun port and a blocked airport runway have made access to Hatay province more difficult.

Duygu Duman told Arab News that her relatives could hear voices beneath the rubble of a collapsed building in the center of Hatay, where her grandmother and aunt were trapped.

“My grandmother is very old, she cannot wait for so long. It is a race against time,” Duman said.

Another survivor, Ismail Keser, rescued his sister-in-law from the ruins of a five-story building in Antakya.

“We cannot enter the house because of the aftershocks,” he said. “I’m still involved in rescue efforts, but we are running out of hope. There is a chaos here,” he told Arab News.

 


Jordanian aid plane jets off to Turkiye and Syria

Jordanian aid plane jets off to Turkiye and Syria
Updated 07 February 2023

Jordanian aid plane jets off to Turkiye and Syria

Jordanian aid plane jets off to Turkiye and Syria
  • A Jordanian rescue team, including five doctors, was also on the plane

AMMAN: Jordan’s first of several aid planes loaded with rescue equipment, tents, and logistical and medical materials for the victims of the earthquake in Syria and Turkiye, took off on Tuesday.
Aboard the plane was a team of 99 personnel from the Jordanian International Search and Rescue Team and five doctors from the Jordanian Royal Medical Services.
Jordan’s News Agency shared on Tuesday a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, saying the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization on Monday evening reached out to authorities in Syria and Turkiye in order to send aid to the areas affected by the earthquake and to take part in rescue operations.
The JHCO is the only entity in Jordan responsible for delivering aid, the statement underscored, and any cash or in-kind donations will be delivered through the organization.