“He guided them to their desired haven.” (Psalm 107:30)
A routine sailing trip became a rescue mission when a crew of Israelis sailing near Kas, a Turkish town by the Greek island of Kastellorizo, pulled from the waters 12 Syrian and Iraqi refugees, including four children and a deceased six-month-old baby.
A lone Syrian teen floating in the Mediterranean Sea with the aid of a life jacket was the first found.
“I’ve been sailing for 40 years and this is the first time something like this has happened to me. We heard cries for help from the water, stopped the boat and found a teenage refugee with a life vest. We pulled him out of the water and he told us that his brother was missing and apparently dead,” the yacht’s captain, Shlomo Asban said.
The teen said there were others. After a search, the Israelis spotted a capsized rubber raft and several refugees adrift in the water. Twelve were fished from the sea, but sadly an infant clutched in its mother’s arms had not survived. The grieving mother held her deceased child throughout the night.
“The first boy we identified spoke Arabic and said he was from Syria. We asked if there were other people, but he started to cry and pointed out in all sorts of directions. We combed the area with binoculars and then we found a large group of people. In the group there was also a person who suffered a heart attack and diabetic shock. We gave him sweets to eat and we saved his life,” crewmember Gal Baruch of Rinatya said. (YNet)
“The most difficult moment was pulling the deceased baby out of the water and watching his mother mourn him on our boat,” Baruch said. “That is something that will remain with me for the rest of my life.” (Times of Israel)
The Israelis provided the refugees with fresh water and food and then, in accordance with maritime law, turned them over to Greek authorities.
When the survivors discovered that they had been saved by Jews from Israel, they kissed them and thanked them. (YNet)
“If we hadn’t been there, there wouldn’t be any survivors. It was an honor to save them,” Baruch told Israel’s Channel 2 TV.
The Israelis are part of the Poseidon Yacht Club of the southern coastal city of Ashdod. (Israel Today)
Three other refugees, a pregnant woman and two men, were later found in the water by Greek authorities. All were deceased.
The UN Refugee Council reports that over 200 migrants have died already this year making the treacherous Aegean Sea crossing from Turkey to Greece.
According to the UN, “Over half a million people have crossed the Mediterranean and Aegean so far this year, fleeing war, persecution and a horrifying list of human miseries in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, and other countries.”
More than 110,000 have landed in Italy, and 200,000 made it to Greece. (unhcr)