Turkey has begun a large-scale operation to bring home people injured in the Israeli attack on the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla and Turkish citizens detained after the incident.
Ankara had warned Tel Aviv on Tuesday to release Turkish citizens who were taken into Israeli custody following the storming of a Turkish ship that was part of the Freedom Flotilla.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ultimately bowed to Turkey’s demand and is releasing and deporting over 600 pro-Palestinian activists, including some accused of attacking Israeli commandos in the deadly assault, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday.
A Turkish plane carrying an Irish national and a Turkish activist who were seriously injured by Israeli commandos landed at a military base near Ankara late on Wednesday. Two other military planes are expected to bring home 17 more wounded Turkish activists.
On Monday, Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel after the attack on the Freedom Flotilla and demanded that the blockade of Gaza be lifted as a condition for normalizing relations.
The Israeli military attacked the Freedom Flotilla in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea early on May 31, killing at least 19 people on board the six ships, mostly Turkish nationals, and injuring about 50 others.
Israel also arrested nearly 700 activists from 42 countries on board the Freedom Flotilla, which was attempting to break the siege of Gaza in order to deliver humanitarian assistance to the long-suffering people of the territory.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Turkish parliament unanimously passed a non-binding declaration calling for a review of economic, political, and military ties with Israel.