t was a nautical jaunt to remember.
A group of Israeli sailing club members out for a leisurely cruise on Sunday morning quickly found themselves leading a dramatic rescue operation to save the lives of 11 Syrian and Iraqi refugees whose boat had capsized in the Mediterranean Sea. The Poseidon Sailing Club members pulled eight adults and four children out of the water.
The dramatic rescue, first reported by Ynet, took place near the Turkish tourist town of Kas, not far from a Greek island called Kastelórizo.
“I’ve been at sea for 40 years and this is the first time something like this happened to me,” the Israeli yacht’s captain, Shlomo Asban, told Ynet. “I heard ‘save me’ from the waters, we stopped the boat and saw a youth with a life jacket. We brought him out of the water and he told us his brother had gone missing and was probably dead.”
The young refugee told his saviors that he was from a town in Syria.
“He spoke Arabic and said he was from Syria. We asked him if he was with other people, and he began to cry and point all over the place,” Gal Baruch, one of the rescuers from the Ashdod club, told Ynet.
Asban recounted that a few minutes after the stirring rescue, the Israeli sailors noticed other heads bobbing in the water beside an overturned dinghy. The Ashdod sailing club members pulled them out.
The refugees came from Iraq and Syria. Asban said that he and his friends gave them water and let them use their cell phones to call their families.
Baruch said that one of the people rescued was “a man going into diabetic shock. We gave him sweet things to eat and were able to save his life.”
“After we told them that we are Jews from Israel, they kissed us and said ‘thank you,’” Asban related.
Baruch added that the rescue was extremely trying: “It’s not easy to see this kind of situation. After an hour at sea with us, we dropped them off safely and they were transferred to Greek authorities.”