Despite the fact that Indonesia refuses to conduct diplomatic relations with Israel, the Jewish state has sent water purifiers to the earthquake and tsunami-devastated country, and is preparing a delegation of aid workers to touch down in the coming days.
More than 1,400 people have been killed following a 7.5-magnitude earthquake that hit the island Sulawesi, in central Indonesia, and triggered a tsunami on Friday. The United Nations reported that nearly 200,000 people, including tens of thousands of children, are in need of food and clean water, and that local hospitals are beyond capacity.
Israel has gained a reputation in recent years for providing rescue and medical services in some of the most dire disasters around the world: in the wake of a volcanic eruption in Guatemala earlier this year, following an earthquake in Nepal in 2015, after a typhoon in the Philippines in 2013, after an earthquake in Haiti in 2010 and after an earthquake in Turkey in 1999, among other incidents. Offers to send teams to Iran and Iraq following earthquakes in 2017 were declined.
“Israel, a world leader in disaster relief, offers medical and rescue aid to Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country and one that has no diplomatic ties with us,” wrote Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren on Twitter. “This again demonstrates our compassion and humanity and our willingness to share our expertise for its betterment.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had an unexpected interchange with Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly last week.
“There were 190 heads of state, presidents and vice presidents, prime ministers, etc., there. Many agendas came at the same time, you could come face to face with anyone,” Kalla told Indonesian reporters. “You could not have avoided it. [Netanyahu] was suddenly just beside me. Should I have turned around?”
However, this is not the first interaction between Indonesia and Israel. In the early 1980s, Indonesia bought more than 30 fighter jets from Israel. In June of this year, Indonesia and Israel reversed travel bans against each other’s citizens.