The first truck from a Turkish aid convoy arrived on Monday evening to the Kerem Shalom border crossing, which links Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip.
An official delegation from Turkey arrived in the Gaza Strip on Monday to partake in an official ceremony to welcome Turkish humanitarian aid to Gaza, which arrived a day earlier on board a Turkish ship.
The ceremony, held at the Kerem Shalom crossing, included the Turkish delegation, headed by ambassador to the Palestinian Authority Mustafa Sarni, as well as Palestinian officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Social Development.
The crossing represents the blockaded strip’s only outlet for commercial goods.
Mounir Ghalban, crossing director on the Palestinian side, told Anadolu Agency that the first aid-laden truck had arrived to the Israeli side of the crossing and was now making its way into the Gaza Strip, according to Anadolu Agency .
Ghalban went on to note that a total of 10 trucks from Turkey’s “Lady Leyla” aid ship — which docked at Israel’s Ashdod Port yesterday bearing 11 tons of humanitarian aid — were expected to enter the strip on Monday.
Ministry of Social Development in Gaza Undersecretary Yousif Ibrahim said that the 11,000 tons of aid — which include flour, sugar, rice, cooking oil, clothes, toys and diapers — would immediately be distributed to the needy in the besieged Gaza Strip.
In a statement, the Israeli Defense Ministry confirmed that the first aid truck contained a shipment of toys and diapers.
The remainder of aid from the ship, he added, would enter Gaza after the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which will end on Thursday.
Israeli demonstrators on Saturday reportedly attempted to block the delivery of aid to the besieged Gaza Strip from the Turkish cargo ship Lady Leyla, which docked at Israel’s Ashdod port earlier that morning.
According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the families of Israeli soldiers whose slain bodies are being held by Hamas or who are believed to be missing inside the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, staged a protest at the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and the blockaded territory, aiming to prevent the aid from passing through.
Turkish Ambassador to Jerusalem Mustafa Sarnic noted the importance of delivering the aid to Gaza on the last day of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month.
Stressing that the assistance was just the beginning, Sarnic said: “It [the aid] will continue. From now on, we will do our best to solve [Gaza’s] energy problem. There is also a water issue, which we will work to resolve.”
The ambassador went on to note that a delegation from Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Ministry would soon hold talks with Israeli officials in this regard.
Turkey’s humanitarian aid delivery followed an agreement made with Israel on Sunday to normalize diplomatic relations between the two nations, ending a six-year standoff sparked by the 2010 Israeli attack on a Turkish aid ship attempting to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip which resulted in the death of ten Turkish activists.
While Turkey notably conceded on its demand that Israel lift its near decade-long blockade on the Gaza Strip, Israel did agree to allow Turkey to deliver aid, with the stipulation that deliveries pass through the Ashdod port, to then continue to Gaza through land crossings.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has said that Tel Aviv had met all of Ankara’s preconditions for normalizing ties, which were severed in 2010 after Israeli commandos stormed a Gaza-bound Turkish aid vessel.
The attack resulted in the death of nine Turkish activists and left another 30 injured, one of whom succumbed to his injuries nearly four years later.
In the aftermath of the attack, Turkey had demanded an official apology from Israel, compensation for the families of those killed, and the lifting of Israel’s Gaza blockade.
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 week’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.