Erdogan: Turkish forces to escort aid to Gaza

Al Jazzera: Defying Israel’s blockade, PM Erdogan says Turkey will send aid shipments to Gaza under the protection of naval forces.

In May 2010, Israeli commandos raided a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, killing nine Turks and igniting a diplomatic row [EPA]

Turkey’s naval forces would escort Turkey’s humanitarian aid ships bound for the Gaza Strip, said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, following Israel’s refusal to apologise for its deadly raid on an aid flotilla heading to the Palestinian Territories in May 2010.

“We have humanitarian aid to be sent there. And our humanitarian aid will not be attacked anymore like it happened to Mavi Marmara,” he told the Al Jazeera TV channel on Thursday.

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.

Erdogan also said that Turkey would closely monitor international waters and has taken steps to prevent Israel’s unilateral exploitation of natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Turkish-Israeli relations hit a low last week after a UN report on the deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship said that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza was legitimate but its raid on the flotilla trying to break the blockade was “excessive and unreasonable.”

Turkey has since expelled top Israeli diplomats, cut military ties with the country, pledged to lobby other nations in support of the Palestinians’ statehood bid at the United Nations in September and promised increased Turkish naval patrols in the Mediterranean.

Israel has expressed regret for the loss of lives aboard the flotilla, but it has refused to apologise, saying its forces acted in self-defense.

Turkey, however, is still seeking an apology in order to normalise a relationship once seen as a cornerstone of regional stability

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