World Bulletin / News Desk
The Palestinian Ministry of Social Affairs on Thursday began the second stage of distributing Turkish humanitarian aid to poor families in the blockaded Gaza Strip.
"The aid will be transferred to several Gaza-based NGOs, which will in turn distribute them to more than 30,000 Palestinian families," ministry undersecretary Youssef Ibrahim told Anadolu Agency.
The first stage of aid distribution benefited some 11,000 poor families in Gaza, he said, adding that a third stage would be organized in upcoming weeks.
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 basic commodities, including food, fuel and medicine.
On July 3, a Turkish aid ship docked in Israel’s port of Ashdod carrying 11,000 tons of humanitarian aid destined for Gaza.
The influx of Turkish aid to Gaza comes within the context of a deal signed last month between Ankara and Tel Aviv in which the two agreed to restore diplomatic relations following a six-year hiatus.
According to Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, Tel Aviv has met all of Ankara’s preconditions for normalizing ties, which were severed in 2010 after Israeli commandos stormed a Turkish aid vessel bound for Gaza.
The attack led to 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 month’s agreement, 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.