Turkey has resumed its aid delivery to the Palestinian territory. The move comes some six years after a deadly altercation at sea caused a rupture in diplomatic ties between Turkey and Israel.
Trucks carrying tons of aid from Turkey began arriving in the Gaza strip on Monday.
More than 10,000 tons of food, clothes, toys and other goods left turkey on Friday and arrived at the Israeli port of Ashdod on Sunday. The goods then began being transferred from one large boat to 500 trucks that are setting out for Gaza in a piecemeal manner.
The first convoy crossed into Gaza at the Kerem Shalom checkpoint. The delivery is under the supervision of the Turkish Red Crescent Society.
The aid comes a week after Israel and Turkey patched up relations that were severed six years ago. In 2010 a flotilla of Turkish ships bound for Gaza challenged an Israeli naval blockade of the Palestinian territory, which is administered by the Islamic militant group Hamas.
Kerem Kinik, president of the Turkish Red Crescent, traveled to Gaza to supervise the current distribution of the goods.
He said Turkey would provide "continuous, regular humanitarian assistance" for the territory.
"This is the first (aid) ship after the Turkish and the Israeli governments' agreement," he said.
In 2010 Israeli commandos stormed one ship and killed 10 people - nine of them Turks – as they stopped the aid shipment.
Rapprochement makes rare appearance in Middle East
The renewal of relations is a rarity in a region that has long been defined by the blood it sheds. But both countries had incentives for making peace.
The prospects of lucrative Mediterranean gas deals, and mutual concern over growing security risks were among the factors driving a reconciliation agreement.
Since the rift with Israel, Turkey has become increasingly hemmed in.
Its relationship with Syria, next door, disintegrated amid the latter's civil war - with Turkey pressing for the ouster of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad.
In addition, Turkey's relationship with Russia disintegrated late last year after a Russian war plane infiltrated Turkish air space, and was shot-down - killing the pilot.
The pledge of reconciliation included an Israeli pledge to enable Turkey to send aid to Gaza.
Separately, Israeli authorities say that last week some 3,400 trucks carrying 107,500 tons of goods arrived in Gaza. The goods included consumer items, electronic goods and medical devices.
While merchants in Gaza are free to import commercial goods from Israel, and elsewhere, Israel restricts dual use items, claiming they can be used to build weapons fortifications.
Egypt, which is also at odds with Hamas, generally keeps its border with Gaza closed.
bik/kms (Reuters, AP)