A Turkish ship carrying aid for Gaza has arrived in Israel, a week after Turkey and Israel agreed to restore ties which were severed after the previous aid flotilla was attacked by Israel in 2010.
The ship, the Lady Leyla, docked at Ashdod port on Sunday afternoon after departing from Turkey on Friday.
Its contents are meant to be offloaded, inspected and sent to the Gaza Strip.
The ship was carrying 11,000 tonnes of supplies including food packages, flour, rice, sugar and toys, Anadolu news agency reported, and is expected to reach Gaza in a few days.
Turkey signed a deal with Israel to mend negotiations despite Israel’s refusal to lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip. A compromise was reached between Israel and Turkey, allowing Turkey to send aid through Ashdod rather than directly to Gaza.
The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli blockade and faced the assault of three wars by Israel since 2008
Turkish aid ship carrying 11.000 tons of humanitarian aid for Gaza Strip arrived at Ashdod port ahead of Eid Al-Fitr pic.twitter.com/ckhroD7Wyu
— AFAD (@AFADTurkey) July 3, 2016
Israel says the blockade is necessary to prevent Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza, from receiving materials that could be used for military purposes. However, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who visited Gaza on Tuesday, called the blockade “collective punishment”.
Turkey and Israel were formerly close regional allies, but fell out in 2010 when Israeli commandos killed 10 Turkish activists in a raid on the Mavi Marmara, an aid flotilla seeking to break the blockade on Gaza.
“This small amount of aid coming from Turkey is highly appreciated, but the most important thing for Gazans is freedom, hope and a new process to end the suffering of two million Palestinians,” Amjad al-Shawa, the director of the Palestinian Non-Governmental Network, told Al Jazeera from Gaza City.
He added, “We expect Turkey to pressure Israel – through its newly restored relations – to respect international humanitarian law and to lift this inhumane blockade”.
(Al Jazeera, PC)