JERUSALEM, Oct. 25 (JTA) — Some 2,000 victims of August’s devastating earthquake in Turkey have new homes thanks to the efforts of the Israeli government and its citizens.
Barak made a one-day visit to Turkey on Monday to mark the opening of the town in Adapazari, one of the areas hardest hit in the quake. He also held talks with Turkish government leaders on bilateral ties and cooperative projects.
The new community, comprising some 300 prefabricated homes furnished with basic appliances as well as a school, medical clinic, playgrounds and grocery store, is expected to provide housing for some 2,000 people.
The Israeli government contributed nearly $5 million to the project, which was also supported by Israeli citizens and U.S. Jewish groups.
“Out of a feeling of brave friendship, and duty to extend a human and warm hand to brothers who have come upon troubles, our two peoples, the Turkish and Israeli people, came together with determination,” Barak said at a brief inauguration ceremony.
Following the earthquake in Turkey, Israel dispatched Israeli army rescue teams and staff which toiled to locate survivors in the rubble and run a field hospital.
The village, the first to be constructed by a foreign country in Turkey for earthquake survivors, was built over the past two months by a Israeli Defense Ministry team.
The village’s school was funded by the American Jewish Committee, whose executive director, David Harris, participated in the dedication ceremony. The American Jewish World Service also raised funds for the village.
Turkey’s ties with Israel, which until now have been predominantly characterized by economic and defense cooperation, have come under criticism from other Arab countries.
Turkey’s leadership has repeatedly stressed that its relations with Israel are not threatening to other regional countries.
Meanwhile, Barak devoted part of his visit Monday to talks with Turkish government officials on a number of potential projects, including a tank upgrade and arms purchase that is estimated to amount to hundreds of millions of dollars.