Days after Turkey and Israel reached a deal restoring normalized ties, 11,000 tons of humanitarian aid – including rice, flour, and toys -- are being readied to send from Turkey to Gaza this Friday.
Relief supplies for the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip started being loaded Wednesday onto the Lady Leyla, a Panama-flagged ship, in Turkey's southern port of Mersin.
Under the deal, Turkey will be able to send humanitarian aid to Gaza as well as carry out infrastructure projects including residential buildings and a 200-bed Turkish-Palestine Friendship Hospital.
The Lady Leyla will carry 10,000 toys and 10,000 packages of food aid to the children of Gaza via the Israeli port of Ashdod. Five tons of flour and 2,000 tons of rice aid from the Turkish Grain Board as well as sugar aid from the Turkish Red Crescent (Turkiye Kizilayi) will also be delivered.
Turkey and Israel reached an initial reconciliation agreement late Sunday. Diplomatic ties between the two countries were suspended after Israeli troops stormed a Gaza-bound aid ship in international waters in 2010, killing 10 Turkish activists.
The Mavi Marmara aid ship was among six civilian vessels trying to break Israel's blockade of Gaza when they were boarded by Israeli commandos.
In the aftermath of the attack, Turkey demanded a formal apology from Israel, compensation for the families of those killed, and the lifting of Israel’s Gaza blockade.
In 2013, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced regret for the attack.
On Monday, months of talks between the two countries finally bore fruit, with Turkey announcing that a deal would be signed normalizing relations with Israel.
Under the deal, in addition to agreeing to Turkey’s humanitarian presence in Gaza, Israel will pay $20 million in compensation to the families of the Mavi Marmara victims.
By Sezgin Pancar
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