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Israel PM offers quake aid to arch foe Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on November 12, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / ABIR SULTAN

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered aid to victims of the deadly earthquake in Iran, insisting enmity between the two governments does not prevent humanitarian sympathy.

The offer was made in a video conference with the Jewish Federations of North America.

It comes as many of the tens of thousands left homeless by the quake have vented anger at the Islamic regime for what they say has been the slow response of the charitable foundations set up after the revolution of 1979.

“I saw these heartbreaking images of men and women and children buried under the rubble,” Netanyahu told the meeting in Los Angeles.

“A few hours ago, I directed that we offer the Red Cross medical assistance for the Iraqi and Iranian victims of this disaster.

“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. But our humanity is greater than their hatred.”

Iran does not recognise the Jewish state.

The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed Netanyahu’s offer, but said neither Iran nor Iraq had as yet requested any external aid.

“The offer was not rejected,” ICRC spokeswoman in Jerusalem Alyona Synenko told AFP, after Israeli media said Iran had turned down the offer through the Red Cross.

“It is important to stress that humanitarian assistance must always be based on needs and stay away from politics,” she added.

More than 400 people were killed and tens of thousands left homeless by the quake that struck on the Iran-Iraq border late on Sunday.

Israel regards Iran and its close ally, Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah, as its most dangerous foes.

Iran has been a staunch supporter of Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Tens of thousands of Jews of Iranian ancestry have played a prominent role in the state of Israel, counting among their number a former president, a former army chief and several former government ministers.



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