In November of 2017, a massive earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale struck near the border between Iran and Iraq. The quake, the deadliest of the entire year, left more than 500 dead and more than 8,000 injured, along with significant damage to many towns and villages in the region. Over 12,000 residential buildings were reported to be either damaged or completely destroyed. Most of the deaths, injuries, and damage occurred on the Iranian side of the border.
There is a major fault line that runs through western Iran and northwestern Iraq where the Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. Earthquakes in the region are not uncommon, but this one was one of the most severe in recent times. More than 150 aftershocks, the strongest measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale, following the major earthquake were reported. According to Iranian authorities, at least 70,000 people were in need of emergency shelter because of the extensive damage.
Many nations responded with emergency aid, but one came as a surprise to most: Israel. Despite the public and blatant hostility of the government in Tehran toward the Jewish state, and despite the millions of dollars Iran has spent arming terrorists like Hezbollah and Hamas, Israel reached out with help in the time of crisis.
Prime Minister Netanyahu announced the aid, saying, “I’ve said many times that we have no quarrel with the people of Iran. Our quarrel is only with the tyrannical regime that holds them hostage and threatens our destruction. I saw these heartbreaking images of men and women and children buried under the rubble. I’m proud to announce tonight that a few hours ago, I directed that we offer the Red Cross medical assistance for the Iraqi and Iranian victims of this disaster.”
Israeli doctors, search and rescue teams, and other aid workers are often sent around the world following natural disasters. In the past decade, at least 40 countries have benefited from such relief efforts. Among those was the United States following the massive flooding in Texas brought about by Hurricane Harvey. Israeli workers helped clear debris and helped survivors piece their lives back together.
The reality is that many of the nations of the world take every opportunity to both publicly and privately castigate the Jewish state, often blaming Israel for the unrest in the Middle East—not just with the Palestinians, but in other nations as well. Israel is a convenient scapegoat. Yet the Jewish state continues to respond with help in times of crisis.