Israel commented another scandal as its rescue team stole ancient biblical manuscripts from the wreckage of an earthquake-collapsed church in the city of Antakya, southern Türkiye, which sparked an uproar on social media.
Israeli Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, revealed that while the Israeli rescue team was searching through the rubble in the city of Antakya after the devastating earthquake in hopes of finding survivors trapped beneath, they were approached by a local elderly Jewish man holding a unique object in his hands.
It was found that the manuscripts of the Book of Esther are more than two centuries old, which were kept in the local synagogue before the disaster.
The man approached Major Haim Otmazgin, commander of the search and rescue force, with an unusual request.
“The last president of our community has now tragically passed away, and with us so close to Syria, I’d hate to see manuscripts fall into the wrong hands… Please guard it and make sure our community remembers,” he said.
The pioneer of the Israeli rescue team, told the old man that “As a volunteer for several decades, this is one of the most touching moments in my life”.
The team leader added, according to the Israeli newspaper, “I am truly honored to preserve such an important historical document and to ensure that the heritage of the Jewish community in Antakya remains intact, even after the earthquake reduced it to almost nothing”.
Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper confirmed that the Israeli mission returned after it contributed to the recovery of nearly twenty survivors from under the rubble, and the extraction of many bodies of people who were unlucky, such as the leader of the Jewish community in Antakya, Saul Senodioglu, and his wife, Fortuna.
The Esther is a book in part of the Old Testament of the Bible, and tells of the salvation of the Jews from persecution in the Persian Empire.
An Israeli rescue organization was searching for survivors among the rubble of the house demolished by the earthquake that struck Türkiye, after allegations of security concerns.
United Hatzala, a private foundation, said “It sent 40 volunteers to participate in the rescue efforts in southern Türkiye, and they were scheduled to return after 10 days, but decided to leave early, because of what it claimed was a concrete and immediate threat.
The control of the Israeli rescue team over the archaeological manuscripts caused an uproar on social media, as tweeters considered it a theft process, while others expressed their dissatisfaction with the exploitation of the earthquake to steal and plunder historical wealth.