In recent weeks, Israel has sent emergency aid to Houston after Hurrican Harvey and to Madagascar to help contain the Black Death plague, but it will probably not be sending a team to the earthquake-stricken region on the Iran-Iraq border, The Times of Israel reported on Monday.
Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz offered his “condolences to the people of Iran and Iraq over the loss of human life caused by the earthquake,” which struck Sunday night, killing over 400 people.
But unlike so many other disaster scenes where Israeli delegations have rushed to help, this time there was no immediate plan to do so.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said he was unaware of any aid offered to the two countries, neither of which have diplomatic ties with Israel.
“The Home Front Command has not organized a delegation [for Iran and Iraq],” an army spokesperson said. The Prime Minister’s Office had no comment.
Israeli officials were described as “hesitant to discuss the matter in any depth, refusing to say why no assistance was offered or if the country would consider sending aid if asked to do so.”
Explanations are hardly necessary, though. In 2003, after an earthquake in the southeastern Iranian city of Bam killed more than 26,000 people, Iran publicly rebuffed the unofficial suggestion that Israel might send help.
Tehran’s Interior Ministry said that Iran would accept help from all countries except one: Israel. “The Islamic Republic of Iran accepts all kinds of humanitarian aid from all countries and international organizations with the exception of the Zionist regime,” a spokesman said at the time.
Nine years later, when two quakes hit the Iranian province of East Azerbaijan, killing more than 300 people and injuring 3,000, Israel did not offer assistance.
“We offered Iran assistance after earthquakes in the past, but they refused. So this time, we didn’t even bother to ask if they’re interested,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman told The Times of Israel at the time. “Their refusal was pretty impolite, but we’re not making a big fuss about it.”