Turkish ship carrying humanitarian aid reaches Israeli port

ASHDOD, Israel, July 3 (UPI) — A Turkish ship carrying tons of humanitarian aid and equipment for the Gaza Strip docked in Israel Sunday as part of a reconciliation agreement between Israel and Turkey.

The ship, loaded with 10,000 tons of supplies, pulled in to the port city of Ashdod Sunday afternoon.

Turkey and Israel just last week agreed to normalize relations aftr a six-year diplomatic standoff. The agreement allows Turkey to send aid to Gaza through Israel, Daily Sabah reported.

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Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildri announced the agreement June 27 and said the ship would set sail Friday. He said the agreement reflects his country’s role of protecting oppressed people in the middle east, Haaretz reported.

The families of some missing or dead Israelis whose bodies have not be released, have vowed to block the transer of the humanitarian aid.

Oron Shaul is one of the Israeli soldiers whose body is being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. His family arrived at the port Sunday morning to try to block the ship’s cargo from reaching Gaza.

They joined other families whose soldiers died in 2014’s Operative Protective Edge, saying the agreement between Israel and Turkey should have included the return of the missing Israelis or their bodies.

“My son has been here, just over this fence, for two years already,” said Zehava Shaul, Oron’s mother. “Two years in which we didn’t open our mouths and sat in silence.”

She said the Israeli government should never have agreed to allow this aid to travel through the country without an agreement to return the missing soldiers.

Even without a formal agreement Turkey has agreed to try to rectify the situation. It issued a “letter of goodwill” promising to work with Hamas to get the missing Israelis released.

Part of the deal between Turkey and Israel is an agreement that Israel will pay $20 million in compensation to the families of Mavi Marmara victims.

The two countries severed diplomatic ties in 2010 after Israeli troops stormed a Gaza-bound ship, Mavi Marmara, and killed 10 Turkish activists. Six ships in all worked to break through Israel’s blockade of Gaza. At the time, Israel refused to apologize or compensate the families of the activists.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in 2013 he regretted the attack on the Turkish aid ship.

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