Israel News

The IDF’s Search & Rescue Mission in Turkey

The Israeli military has launched a rescue operation in Turkey, dubbed “Operation Olive Branches,” to assist after the devastating earthquake that took place there on Monday, February 6.

Read on to learn more about the mission and why Israel is a top leader in search and rescue around the world!

The IDF’s search and rescue delegation leaves for Turkey on February 6 (Photo credit: Israel Defense Forces)

Operation Olive Branches

Shortly after southeastern Turkey experienced a devastating earthquake on February 6, 2023, Israel announced that it would be sending a humanitarian mission to assist with recovery efforts.

The Israeli delegation landed the following morning, and immediately went to work setting up a field hospital and assisting with search and rescue. The mission has been named "Operation Olive Branches," and is led by the Israel Defense Forces, with the Home Front Command's Search and Rescue Unit at its head.

IDF soldiers pack up equipment for the army's field hospital in Turkey (Photo credit: Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF's team consists of active-duty and reserve soldiers, who are aided by the Israel Fire and Rescue Authority and volunteer first responders from the United Hatzalah of Israel ambulance service. Additional army personnel are on standby if needed.

Their main objective is to assist with immediate life-saving efforts, including mapping out and analyzing the earthquake-hit areas, search and rescue of survivors, and medical assistance.

The IDF's Search & Rescue Unit searching for survivors in the aftermath of the earthquake in Turkey (Photo credit: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Israeli officials have described the mission as a "great opportunity to help our neighbors after hundreds of them were killed and thousands have been injured," adding that the IDF will "do everything we can to save Turkish citizens."

In addition, it has been reported that Israel is sending humanitarian aid to earthquake-ravaged Syria. Due to the state of war between the two countries, sending more overt help in the form of an IDF mission is currently impossible, though the army has not ruled out assisting Syrians who arrive at the Turkish border.

IDF Search & Rescue

Why was the Israeli military ready to send an earthquake recovery team abroad within hours of disaster? Because they're already top experts in search and rescue, with impressive and broad experience all over the world!

Officers from the IDF's Search & Rescue Brigade (Photo credit: Hod Hachanit for the Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF has deployed 31 different search and rescue missions around the world in the past 40 years, often being the first or primary international aid in various emergencies and disasters.

These are uniquely trained teams from the army's Search & Rescue Brigade as part of the Home Front Command, consisting of both enlisted soldiers and reservists who are dedicated to becoming experts in saving lives during emergencies. The experience they have learned and built on in the field has continued to be invaluable wherever they go, in Israel and around the world in any kind of emergency.

Israel's search and rescue experts working around the clock in earthquake-stricken Turkey (Photo credit: Israel Defense Forces)

Israel's Home Front Command has additionally developed a revolutionary command and control system for responding to many different types of national emergencies - and it has already been used by the IDF to save lives in Japan, Nepal, Mexico, Brazil, and Cyprus over the past several years.

As the heroes of the Israel Defense Forces currently assist in Turkey, we have no doubt they will continue saving lives all over the world for years to come!


If you're proud of the IDF and its humanitarian efforts like we are, show your solidarity with our Top 10 Support IDF Gifts, and shop our entire IDF collection here!



Who Were the Maccabees?
The Maccabees have made a lasting impact on Jewish and global history, but much of their story is taught as
8 Classic Hanukkah Foods From Around the World
To give a bit of background, Hanukkah foods usually fall under one or more of three main themes:  *Fried food –
All Your Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Questions, Answered
Why do we light a menorah during Hanukkah? The Hanukkah menorah symbolizes the miracle that occurred when the Maccabees, Jewish
Dark blue background with multicolor dreidels and chocolate coin
Spinning & Winning: The Whys & Hows of Dreidel
One of Hanukkah’s most curious customs is the spinning top – called a dreidel in Yiddish and sevivon in Hebrew
flag of Israel against the sky and the wall
Israel’s Other Independence Day: 29th of November
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL. February 15, 2019. Hand holding a Star of David, a Jewish religious symbol against the Western wall of the Jewish Temple in the Old city of Jerusalem. Judaism Zionism concept image.
How Difficult Times Connect Jews to Judaism
 Jews have always shown their best sides in times of strife, and our globalized world has taken Jewish unity to