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Turkish ship sets off to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza via Israeli port

July 2, 2016 10:01 P.M. (Updated: July 4, 2016 2:05 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A Turkish ship carrying some 11,000 tons of humanitarian aid bound for the besieged Gaza Strip embarked from the Turkey’s southern Mersin port on Friday, on a journey expected to take 30 hours.

The Palestinian embassy in Turkey said that the ship was carrying 10,000 toys, 10,000 packages of food including canned goods, flour, sugar, rice, vegetable oil, as well as clothes and shoes.

The Panama-flagged ship, called Lady Leyla, was expected to first arrive to Israel’s Ashdod seaport, and the aid would then be taken to the Gaza Strip via land crossings.

Turkey’s aid delivery to the Gaza Strip follows an agreement made with Israel on Sunday that ended six years of diplomatic strife between the two nations. 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.

The six-years of crisis between Israel and Turkey was sparked by the 2010 Israeli attack on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, which led the first Freedom Flotilla aimed at lifting the Israeli-imposed siege on the Gaza Strip.

Ten unarmed Turkish activists were killed as they attempted to access the besieged Gaza Strip to deliver much-needed international aid during the Israeli incursion, sparking international outcry.
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