Turkish humanitarian aid to be distributed in Gaza

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The Palestinian Ministry of Social Affairs began on Tuesday to distribute Turkish humanitarian aid to poor families in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

“The aid will be disbursed on several stages as we target poor families, orphans and other needy groups,” ministry undersecretary Youssef Ibrahim told a press conference in the Gaza City.

He said the first phase of the aid distribution will include 11,000 poor families.

Youssef said his ministry will be responsible for disbursing three-quarters of the aid, while the Turkish Red Crescent Society will oversee the distribution of the remaining quarter.

Resit Bastug, a member of the Turkish Red Crescent Society, meanwhile, said Turkey spares no effort to provide aid to the Palestinian people.

“We have sent a shipment of aid to the people in Gaza and we will send in another consignment,” he said.

Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has groaned under a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade that has deprived the enclave’s roughly 1.9 million inhabitants of their most basic needs, especially food, fuel, medicine and construction supplies.

On July 3, the Turkish aid ship “Lady Leyla” docked in Israel’s port of Ashdod carrying 11,000 tons of humanitarian aid — including food, clothing and toys — destined for Gaza.

The Turkish aid to Gaza comes within the context of a deal signed between Turkey and Israel in which the two agreed to restore 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.

At the time, Turkey had demanded that Israel officially apologize for the attack, compensate the families of those killed, and lift its longstanding blockade of the Gaza Strip.

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 to normalize relations, 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.