GAZA CITY, Palestine
The first truck from a Turkish aid convoy arrived on Monday evening to the Kerem Shalom border crossing, which links Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip.
The crossing represents the blockaded strip’s only outlet for commercial goods.
Mounir Ghalban, crossing director on the Palestinian side, told Anadolu Agency that the first aid-laden truck had arrived to the Israeli side of the crossing and was now making its way into the Gaza Strip.
Ghalban went on to note that a total of 10 trucks from Turkey’s "Lady Leyla" aid ship -- which docked at Israel’s Ashdod Port yesterday bearing 11 tons of humanitarian aid -- were expected to enter the strip on Monday.
In a statement, the Israeli Defense Ministry confirmed that the first aid truck contained a shipment of toys and diapers.
The remainder of aid from the ship, he added, would enter Gaza after the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which will end on Thursday.
The aid includes flour, sugar, rice, cooking oil, clothing, and toys for children, among other things.
Turkish Ambassador to Jerusalem Mustafa Sarnic noted the importance of delivering the aid to Gaza on the last day of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month.
Stressing that the assistance was just the beginning, Sarnic said: "It [the aid] will continue. From now on, we will do our best to solve [Gaza’s] energy problem. There is also a water issue, which we will work to resolve."
The ambassador went on to note that a delegation from Turkey's Energy and Natural Resources Ministry would soon hold talks with Israeli officials in this regard.
Last week, Turkey and Israel agreed to normalize diplomatic relations following a six-year hiatus.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has said that Tel Aviv had met all of Ankara’s preconditions for normalizing ties, which were severed in 2010 after Israeli commandos stormed a Gaza-bound Turkish aid vessel.
The attack resulted in the death of nine Turkish activists and left another 30 injured, one of whom succumbed to his injuries nearly four years later.
In the aftermath of the attack, Turkey had demanded an official 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 his regret to Turkey’s then-prime minister (now president) Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the incident.
Under the terms of last week’s agreement, the two countries will exchange ambassadors and Israel will pay $20 million in compensation to the families of the 2010 flotilla attack victims.
Israel has also agreed to Turkey’s request to maintain a humanitarian presence in the blockaded Gaza Strip.
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