Israel sends warm wishes, but no aid, to tsunami-stricken Indonesia

In October, government reportedly sent water purifiers to disaster-affected areas in world’s most populous Muslim nation

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Residents inspect a house damaged by a tsunami, in Carita, Indonesia, December 23, 2018 (AP Photo)
Residents inspect a house damaged by a tsunami, in Carita, Indonesia, December 23, 2018 (AP Photo)

Israel offered warm wishes but no aid to Indonesia, which was shocked by a tsunami Saturday night that killed more than 280 people.

“Our most profound sympathies to all who are affected by the devastating tsunami in Indonesia, wishing speedy recovery to all the injured and expressing hope for search and rescue efforts,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon wrote on his Twitter account on Sunday morning.

The Israeli government currently does not plan to offer any emergency relief to Indonesia, he told The Times of Israel on Monday.

On Saturday night, the tsunami’s waves smashed into houses, hotels and other beachside buildings along Indonesia’s Sunda Strait, in a disaster that followed an eruption and possible landslide on Anak Krakatau, one of the world’s most infamous volcanic islands.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, does not have diplomatic relations with Israel and has in the past rejected Israeli aid, at least publicly.

In private conversations, Israeli officials said that this week’s disaster was of a much lower scale than previous tsunamis that hit Indonesia this year, and that Jakarta did not ask the international community for aid.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, however, said it is “providing emergency relief and assessing emerging needs through its local partner in the Kalianda and Rajabasa subdistricts in Lampung.” The JDC’s aid includes “health services, clean water, and critical supplies for survivors and the displace,” according to a press release.

In early October, Israel reportedly sent aid to Indonesia following a devastating earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 1,400 people in the pacific island nation. Jerusalem reportedly sent water purifiers to the disaster-hit areas through the Red Cross, though the government never confirmed the aid.

Israel-based NGO IsraAID has been working for the last two months to “provide safe water and psychological support” to victims of the September 28 disaster.

An IsraAID Emergency Response Team member in Indonesia (courtesy IsraAid)

In the past, the Israeli government itself has sent large delegations to disaster-stricken areas, and offered to send help to countries with which it has no diplomatic relations.

Teams from the Israeli army provided rescue and medical services after an earthquake in Turkey in 1999, an earthquake in Haiti in 2010, a typhoon in the Philippines in 2013 and, most recently, an earthquake in Nepal in 2015.

Last year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered aid to earthquake victims in Iran and Iraq, two countries with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations; those offers were rebuffed.

On October 17, Netanyahu said he wanted to promote diplomatic ties with Indonesia.

“Indonesia is very, very important for us. It’s a very important country. It’s one of the last countries on earth that doesn’t have an open and robust relationship with Israel. Most countries do,” he said at an international conference for Christian journalists in Jerusalem.

“Indonesia is over 200 million people. It has Muslims. It has tens of millions of Christians. We would like to see them here. We would like to have excellent relations with them,” he said.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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