Turkey’s aid ship sets sail for Gaza
AA photoA Turkish humanitarian aid ship carrying 11,000 tons of relief supplies to the Gaza Strip set sail from the country’s southern port of Mersin on July 1.
The aid operation to be carried out by the Panama-flagged ship Lady Leyla, which has been loaded with relief supplies including rice, flour, and toys since June 29, came in the wake of a reconciliation deal reached between Turkey and Israel after a six-year hiatus.
Lady Leyla will also carry 10,000 toys and 10,000 packages of food and aid to children in Gaza via the Israeli port of Ashdod, which it is expected to reach within 30 hours.
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, will be delivered.
A farewell ceremony was held as the ship departed on July 1 with the participation of Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak, Development Minister Lütfi Elvan and Palestinian Ambassador to Ankara Faed Mustafa.
Turkey and Israel reached an initial reconciliation agreement on June 26.
Diplomatic ties between the two countries were suspended after Israeli troops stormed a Gaza-bound aid ship called Mavi Marmara 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 Israeli commandos boarded it.
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.
Months of talks between the two countries finally bore fruit earlier this week, with both announcing that a deal to normalize their relations.
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, while Turkey agreed to approve a law to end the lawsuits in Turkey by the families of those killed by the Israeli soldiers who participated in the raid.