First cargo ship from Turkey with aid for Gazans docks in Israel

A cargo ship from Turkey with humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip docked Sunday in the southern Israeli port of Ashdod.

It was the first Turkish shipment of aid for the 1.9 million Palestinians in the impoverished enclave as part a reconciliation deal signed between Turkey and Israel last week.

"The ship is docking these very moments," a spokesman for the Ashdod Port, Yigal Ben Zikry, told dpa, adding it had 10,000 tons of medicine, food, toys and other items on board.

Relatives and supporters of two Israeli soldiers, who were killed in the 2014 Gaza war, protested outside the port.

The Islamist Hamas movement has kept the soldiers' remains. The families are furious with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for going ahead with the reconciliation deal and allowing the aid shipments, without first demanding that Hamas hand over their bodies.

Ties were ruptured in 2010 when Israeli naval commandos raided a pro-Palestinian flotilla as it headed to breach the Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Ten Turkish nationals - one with joint US citizenship - died as a result of the raid on the ship, Mavi Marmara.

Under the deal secured after months of talks, Israel met Turkey's demand to compensate the families of Turkish casualties by contributing 20 million dollars to a victims' fund.

Ankara, in turn, will drop criminal charges against Israeli soldiers involved in the Mavi Marmara affair.

Turkey's main demand for the blockade of Gaza to be lifted was not fully met, but it will be allowed to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, via Ashdod, and build a hospital, power plant and a water-desalination facility in Gaza.

Last update: Sun, 03/07/2016 - 16:11

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