Turkey government officials see off Gaza-bound aid ship after Israel deal

July 2, 2016 7:50 am

A picture taken on July 1, 2016
shows the Panama-flagged ship Lady Leyla setting off from the southern
Turkish port of Mersin for the Strip. (Photo by AFP)

A Turkish vessel laden with
tons of aid and traveling under Panamanian ensign has set off for the
Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, days after the Turkish president
criticized a similar but non-government-sanctioned trip by another aid
convoy that brought public Turkish-Israeli ties to an end.

Lady Leyla, as the vessel is named, set sail for the Palestinian territory on Friday, Hürriyet reported.
It said the ship is carrying 11,000 tons of rice, sugar, flour, and toys for the enclave.
In
May 2010, an aid convoy for Gaza, which did not have the Turkish
government’s blessing, was raided by Israeli commandos in international
waters in the Mediterranean Sea. Nine Turkish activists were killed by
the Israeli forces. A tenth, severely wounded in the raid, died later.
Ankara
demanded an apology, which was not forthcoming at first. Turkish fury
surged, and the Israeli envoy to Ankara was expelled in September 2010.
Some
six years later, however, reports emerged that and Israel were
engaged in not-so-public negotiations over the normalization of their
ties. Late last month, the two sides announced an agreement, ending
the freeze in public relations.

A
photo taken on December 26, 2010 shows Turkish ship Mavi Marmara
arriving back at the Sarayburnu port in Istanbul as people wave Turkish
and Palestinian flags. (Photo by AFP)Ankara had
conditioned the normalization on an Israeli apology, compensation for
the victims, and the lifting of the siege on the Gaza Strip.
Israel
has met the first two demands and alleged it would take moves aimed at
easing the plight of the Gazans. Reports, however, have indicated that
Ankara compromised the third condition in order to fast-track the
agreement.
Following the reconciliation, Turkish President Recep
Tayyip Erdogan lambasted the organizers of the 2010 Gaza-bound aid
flotilla, saying they had not asked for permission from him back then,
when he was the prime minister.
“Did you ask me before you set sail? Did you ask my permission,” asked Erdogan.
This time, however, the Turkish government seems to have been notified.
Lady
Leyla was given a sendoff by Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Veysi
Kaynak, Development Minister Lütfi Elvan, and Palestinian Ambassador to
Ankara Faed Mustafa.

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