Friday, September 9, 2011

TURKEY ASSERTS IT WILL PROTECT ITS AID SHIPS DESTINED FOR GAZA STRIP

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan asserted late ast night (September 8) that Turkish naval ships will escort the country's humanitarian aid ships bound for the Gaza Strip. His language was strong: "We have humanitarian aid to be sent there. And our humanitarian aid will not be attacked anymore like it happened to the Mavi Marmara," he told the Al Jazeera TV channel, referring to an Israeli raid on a flotilla heading to the Hamas-run Palestinian territory in May 2010.

COMMENT: Israeli commandos boarded the ship Mavi Marmara, which aimed to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza, and killed nine Turks in international waters, causing a diplomatic row between the two countries. Last week Turkish authorities expelled the Israeli ambassador and suspended all military agreements and industrial defense ties with that country, in retaliation for Israel's refusal to apologize for the raid.

Although Israel has said that it wants to repair its tattered relations with Turkey, at the moment Erdogan, at least publicly, does not appear to be anxious for a conciliation. The down side of all of this is that Turks traveling to Israel and Israelis traveling to Turkey, to a greater extent, may be in for lengthy screening.


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