Albania’s prime minister lauds Israeli soldiers helping country in aftermath of deadly earthquake

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Albania’s prime minister publicly praised Israeli military engineers who have been in the country since an earthquake struck late last month.

The Israeli engineers are among the foreign volunteers who are working to determine whether buildings not felled by the earthquake are habitable.

Prime Minister Edi Rama, visiting the western port city of Durres on Monday, told a resident who was afraid to enter his apartment building that he could have confidence in the go-ahead from the Israeli engineers.

“They are from Israel and they are No. 1,” Rama said, The Times of Israel reported. “The engineer says that after the catastrophe you should kiss your home because it has resisted [the earthquake] and has protected you.”

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Later Monday, Rama in a video message sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Israel for its support while surrounded by the 10 Israeli active duty and reserve soldiers.

“Bibi, shalom from Durres. We’re here with your fantastic guys. They are doing a great job in calming the people and telling them how to be resilient,” Rama said. Bibi is Netanyahu’s nickname.

The 6.4-magnitude earthquake that struck on Nov. 26 killed 51 people and injured more than 3,000. More than 11,000 buildings were damaged, leaving about 13,000 people homeless.