Israeli search-and-rescue group United Hatzalah is leaving Turkey after six days on the ground due to a “significant security threat” targeting the group, it announced Sunday.
United Hatzalah chief executive Eli Pollack and vice president of operations Dov Maisel said in a statement they had “received intelligence of a concrete and immediate threat on the Israeli delegation and we have to put the security of our personnel first.”
“We knew that there was a certain level of risk in sending our team to this area of Turkey, which is close to the Syrian border but we took the necessary steps in order to mitigate the threat for the sake of our lifesaving mission,” Maisel said.
The decision came following a “a joint situational assessment with the heads of the [Israel Defense Forces] Home Front Command and Search and Rescue Units which took place on Saturday night,” they said.
Due to the speed of the group’s departure and “lack of available planes,” Miriam Adelson — the widow of the late American Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson — donated her private jet to fly the team back to Israel on Sunday.
“We are extremely proud of what our team has accomplished in just a few days, assisting in the rescue of 15 individuals in cooperation with the IDF Home Front Command, Israel’s Search and Rescue units, local rescue forces, and the Turkish Red Cross,” Maisel said. “I want to thank Dr. Adelson for assisting us in bringing our people back quickly and safely.”
A second Israeli aid group, IsraAid, continues to operate in Turkey.
CNN has reached out to the Israel Defense Forces team in Turkey to see whether it is also departing.