Child is the 19th Turkish civilian rescued by Israeli teams

IDF rescuers in Turkey pull 9-year-old boy from rubble, 120 hours after quake

Survivor’s sister and father were rescued by Israelis earlier in the week; chief rabbi says Israel’s search crews should work through Shabbat to save lives

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Israeli rescue personnel rescue a 9-year-old boy from under rubble in Kahramanmaraş, Turkey, late February 10, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli rescue personnel rescue a 9-year-old boy from under rubble in Kahramanmaraş, Turkey, late February 10, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli military search and rescue experts on Friday evening pulled a 9-year-old boy from under a collapsed building in southeastern Turkey, more than 120 hours after a devastating earthquake struck the region.

The dramatic rescue from the rubble in Kahramanmaraş was the 19th Turkish civilian rescued by the Home Front Command teams, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The IDF said the boy, Ridvan, was the brother of 14-year-old Romisa, a girl who had been rescued along with their father Mohammed by the Israeli search and rescue experts earlier in the week. Their mother was found dead after the earthquake.

A pediatrician from a nearby IDF field hospital was called to the scene to treat the rescued boy.

“We were called by the search and rescue teams to a very complex rescue they had been working on for several hours, since a day earlier they had been working to rescue this child,” said Maj. (res.) Eran Mashiah, the pediatrician.

“They assumed his condition would be serious, and that’s why they called a senior pediatrician. So I got together with a team and headed out to the scene,” Mashiah said.

“They showed us in, and I went inside this tunnel they had dug and reached the child. We saw his head and a hand popping up [from the rubble], and we needed to give him fluids and initial medication through an IV, while getting him out,” he continued.

Mashiah said he had attached the IV to give the child fluids, and headed out when he saw the child had begun to recover, so that the search and rescue teams could continue the rescue.

“But at one point he had recovered so much he pulled the IV out. So I went back in and reattached it, and eventually, he was rescued out and we brought him to a local hospital,” he said.

“An amazing and phenomenal story I had the privilege of taking part in,” Mashiah said.

Maj. (Res.) Eran Mashiah, who helped rescue a 9-year-old Turkish boy from under the rubble in Kahramanmaraş, Turkey, February 10, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF also published a video of the rescue operation, showing the team managing to extract him from under a mass of collapsed concrete and twisted metal.

On Friday morning, Israeli teams saved a 10-year-old boy from a collapsed building in the same city.

While several dramatic rescues were reported across the region on Friday, they were becoming increasingly rare.

Even though experts say trapped people could survive for a week or more, the chances of finding survivors in the freezing temperatures are dimming.

As emergency crews and panicked relatives dug through the rubble — and occasionally found people alive — the focus began to shift to demolishing dangerously unstable structures.

Israeli and Turkish rescuers embrace after pulling a young boy from under rubble in Kahramanmaraş, Turkey, late February 10, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israeli military said its search and rescue experts were continuing to work to rescue civilians trapped under the rubble since Monday’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake, which has killed over 22,700 people.

Meanwhile, Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau ruled Friday that the emergency teams should work through Shabbat to save lives.

“So long as there is any hope of saving lives and finding survivors, operations should continue,” Lau said in a public letter to the rescue teams.

“The treatment being given to the wounded should not be interrupted,” he added.

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau attends a ceremony of the Israeli police for the Jewish new year at the National Headquarters of the Israel Police in Jerusalem on September 5, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

During Shabbat, which runs from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, Orthodox Jews refrain from all work except where it can save a life.

Lau has been in touch with local Turkish rabbis since Monday to get updates on how the disaster was affecting the local Jewish community.

Since the quake devastated swathes of southeastern Turkey and neighboring Syria on Monday, Israel has deployed around 450 rescue specialists, doctors and nurses to Turkish towns and cities to assist in the relief effort.

The military has dubbed the aid operation “Olive Branches.”

AFP contributed to this report

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