ATHENS (Sep. 9)
An Israeli military rescue unit has arrived in Athens to help rescue people trapped in the rubble of the earthquake that shook Athens on Tuesday.
Israel had offered its services soon after the quake occurred, but was waiting for a green light from the Greek government.
From the time the 73-member team arrived Thursday, it became the object of local media attention because of the reputation Israel has earned from previous rescue efforts around the world.
After the announcement that the team was coming, members of the Greek Jewish community contacted Israeli Ambassador Ran Couriel to offer assistance to team members — including opening their homes to the visiting Israelis for Rosh Hashanah.
This is the second time that an Israeli unit has come to the rescue after an earthquake struck Greece. In 1953 Israel dispatched help after the entire island of Cephalonia was razed by a temblor.
At that time, a ship belonging to the still-young Israeli navy was on maneuvers in the Mediterranean and headed for the island, arriving even before Greek officials were able to send help.
The Greek government honored that effort earlier this year.