Menu JTA Search

42 Turkish Soldiers Rescued off Cypriote Port by Israeli Training Ship and Brought to Israel

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

A Turkish Airline plane arrived at Ben Gurion Airport tonight and picked up 42 Turkish soldiers who were rescued yesterday off the Cypriote port of Paphos by an Israeli training ship and brought to Israel.

Meanwhile, the first group of Israelis stranded in Cyprus, who were evacuated to London with the help of the British, arrived in Israel this morning. The group, comprised of 37 men and women members of the Nature Lovers Society, were lavish in their praise of the British officers and soldiers in Cyprus who arranged their evacuation from the Platros region they were visiting. Members of the group said they did not see any fighting but did hear shooting.

The “Mavo’ot Yam,” a training ship of the Education Ministry’s maritime and fishing school which rescued the Turkish soldiers, was on a training voyage in the Aegean Sea when the war in Cyprus broke out. The ship was ordered to cancel the voyage and return to Israel immediately.

West of Cyprus, some distance from Paphos, the ship encountered three lifeboats filled with Turkish soldiers saved from a Turkish naval vessel, believed to be a destroyer or a large landing craft, which was attacked and sunk, reportedly in error, by three Turkish planes. Reuben Pinhassi, captain of the Israeli vessel, took the 42 soldiers on board and radioed authorities in Israel about the rescue.

Israeli officials promptly relayed the news to Turkish authorities via the Israeli Mission in Ankara. The Turkish officials expressed their thanks to Israel for the rescue operation and requested permission, which was granted, to send a plane to pick up the soldiers. The Ministry of the Interior provided entry permission to Israel to the rescued soldiers.

The “Galim” of the Kibbutz Meuchad Maritime School was also on the high seas when the war started and also was ordered home. The “Galim,” which had been near the Greek islands off Turkey’s shore, reached Israel last night, cutting its 19-day exercise trip to five days.

STAND BY TO SEND MEDICAL SUPPLIES

The 37 Israelis were among a total of 45 flown out of Cyprus by the British Royal Air Force and brought to London. The rest of the estimated 250 Israelis on Cyprus also are scheduled to be brought to Britain by the RAF for return to Israel.

The Red Magen David Association said it had notified Cypriote authorities of its readiness to send medical supplies and first aid equipment and made ready a shipment for immediate transport in expectation that a request would be made. The Israeli Association of Surgeons announced it was ready to send physicians to Cyprus if they are needed to help victims of the war.

RESCUE OPERATION TOLD BY SKIPPER

The 42 Turkish soldiers, including the commander of their unit of 230 men, arrived at Haifa without shoes and some without shirts. The Israelis provided them with clothes. The soldiers refused to be interviewed on arrival and were instructed by the Turkish Charge d’Affaires to board a special bus which took them to the airport where they boarded the Turkish airliner and returned to Turkey.

Pinhassi told newsmen that a Mavo’ot Yam scout observed a yellow spot on the high seas yesterday afternoon and on approach, a rubber dinghy bearing 12 Turkish soldiers was discovered. An officer on the dinghy said there were additional survivors. Two more lifeboats were seen and their occupants rescued. The Israeli ship radioed for more ships to help search for possible other survivors but there was no response to the call, Pinhassi said.

NEXT STORY