Turkey – (warsoor) – Turkish aid shipments have arrived in the Gaza Strip via Israel, a week after Israel and Turkey announced they would end a six-year rift and restore ties.
About 11,000 tonnes of cargo, including clothing, toys, food and medicines, were ferried to the Israeli port of Ashdod by a Turkish ship, and made their way to Gaza on Monday.
Under the supervision of the Turkish Red Crescent Society, the first of about 500 lorries carrying the aid entered the Gaza Strip through Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing, witnesses told the Reuters news agency.
Turkey had initially pushed for a lifting of Israel’s eight-year-old blockade on Gaza as part of the negotiations to normalise ties after Israel raided a Gaza aid flotilla in 2010 and killed 10 activists on board. However, Israel rejected this condition.
A compromise was eventually reached allowing Turkey to send aid through Ashdod rather than directly to the Palestinian enclave.
Israel says the blockade is necessary to prevent the Hamas group that rules Gaza from receiving materials that could be used for military purposes. However, the United Nations has called for it to be lifted, citing deteriorating conditions in the territory.
The Turkish government has friendly ties with Hamas, and Ankara has been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause.
Under a reconciliation deal struck last week, Israel will pay $20m in compensation to the families of those killed on the Gaza flotilla six years ago.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promoted the economic benefits of restoring ties, with talk of building a pipeline to Turkey to export natural gas.
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