Truth About Israel
An AZM Educational Campaign
On August 17, 1999, at 3:02 am, one of the most powerful earthquakes of the twentieth century rocked northwestern Turkey, registering 7.4 on the Richter scale. The seismic center was near the city of Izmit. Though the final statistics would not be known for days, it was immediately clear that the toll was devastating. The next day, the Turkish Minister of Public Works and Housing declared to his government and to the world, “We are facing the greatest natural disaster in the history of the Turkish Republic.”
The earthquake struck in the country’s industrial heartland. 75,000 concrete, multi-storied buildings are estimated to have collapsed in Izmit alone, trapping victims within the rubble. Ultimately, approximately 17,000 people died and tens of thousands more were left homeless, injured and bereaved.
Israel did not waste time in arriving on the scene to lend a helping hand. Within a day, a fully equipped search and rescue brigade was airlifted to Turkey. In an effort coordinated by the Israeli Minister of Trade and Industry, major Israeli manufacturing companies contributed necessary medical materials as well as tents, blankets and food. As of August 20, there were three daily flights, full of supplies, leaving Israel for Turkey. In addition, Israeli television broadcast a telethon on behalf of the Turkish victims. Individual Israelis donated over a thousand tons of clothes, blankets, toys, medicines, and hygienic supplies to the cause.