ANKARA (AA) – President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said 14,000 tons of supplies will be sailed to Gaza from Turkey before the Eid al-Fitr religious holiday early July.
Speaking at an iftar, fast-breaking, meal in the Turkish capital Ankara on Monday, Erdogan said a planned normalization of relations with Israel would see “basic necessities such as food, footwear, [and] clothing” sent from Mersin port in Turkey.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries were suspended in 2010 after Israeli commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara — a Turkish aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip — in international waters.
The attack on the six civilian vessels, which had been trying to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza, resulted in the death of nine Turkish citizens and left another 30 injured, one of whom later succumbed to his injuries.
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, Netanyahu voiced his regret for the attack.
Regarding the crisis between Turkey and Russia, Erdogan went on to say: “We had a crisis [over the Nov. 2015 downing of a Russian warplane].
“We tried to solve our problems. I believe the letter sent to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin will help increase our relations in favor of both countries.
“In that letter, I expressed my deep regret over the incident and also reminded him of regional cooperation possibilities we might lead. I believe that we can leave the current ill situation, which affects both countries, to normalize the ties rapidly.”
The Turkish president sent a letter to his Russian counterpart calling for the restoration of “traditional friendly ties,” Turkey’s presidential spokesman confirmed on Monday.
Following the Nov. 2015 downing of the Russian warplane in Turkish airspace, the Kremlin ordered sanctions on food products, an end to visa-free travel, and a ban on Russian tourists taking package holidays in Turkey.
Author Ahmet Sait Akçay
[Photo: Muslims perform ‘Tarawih’ prayer during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan at the Sayed al-Hashim Mosque in Gaza City, Gaza on June 19, 2016. Photographer: Ali Jadallah/AA]