A ship laden with medical supplies set out for Gaza from western Türkiye as officials coordinate with Egypt for deliveries and pulling patients out of the enclave amid Israeli strikes.
Türkiye has sent a ship carrying life-saving humanitarian aid for Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip amid relentless Israeli strikes.
Medical supplies and ambulances were loaded onto the cargo ship, which docked at the Aegean province of Izmir’s Alsancak Port late.
After the loading was completed, the ship left port early Friday to head to Al Arish, Egypt, close to Egypt’s Rafah border crossing into the embattled enclave. It’s expected to arrive at Al Arish by Saturday.
Nearly 500 tons of aid equipment, including medicine, medical devices, eight field hospitals, 20 ambulances and medical consumables, will be delivered to the Gaza Strip through Egypt as announced by Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.
Already hit by a 16-year Israeli blockade, since the start of the current conflict over a month ago, Gaza has been cut off from water, electricity and fuel supplies, with many hospitals having to shut down as a result.
This makes aid deliveries from countries like Türkiye a critical lifeline to Gaza, which has been under relentless bombing campaign by Israel since Oct. 7, in the wake of an unprecedented incursion by the Palestinian resistance group Hamas on Israel.
Türkiye already sent eight planeloads of medicine, medical consumables, devices and generators to Gaza via coordination with the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.
Thursday’s batch includes more generators to power the medical facilities, field hospitals, intensive care units and operation rooms.
Türkiye discussed increasing the daily number of aid trucks to at least 500 for Gaza with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his visit to Ankara, according to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday.
Koca also said the patients of the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital would be transferred through the Rafah crossing to Al Arish and Sheikh Zuweid Hospitals in Egypt.
Koca and his Egyptian counterpart will visit the Palestinian children with cancer there.
Israel bombed the enclave’s only hospital for cancer patients less than two weeks ago, drawing Ankara’s “strongest” condemnations. The facility went out of service last week after running out of fuel.
Koca assured Friday that Turkish medical teams and their Egyptian colleagues would work to treat the Gazan patients.
The second phase of the plan includes bringing both cancer patients and others in need of emergency help to Türkiye.
“As a result of diplomacy efforts for patient transfers through Rafah, Turkish, Egyptian and Israeli health ministers have formed contact and set up a health coordination team,” Koca informed.
Additionally, Turkish nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and relief institutions have sent food parcels, blankets, hot meals, hygiene kits, diapers, clothes, medical supplies and fuel support while Turkish citizens raised funds and similar materials for Gazans.
At least 10,812 Palestinians have been killed in brutal Israeli strikes, including 4,412 children and 2,918 women. The Israeli death toll is nearly 1,600, according to official figures.
Since Oct. 7, Ankara has been vocal in its support of Gaza as Erdoğan slammed Western countries for “watching the massacre from afar”, urging them to put pressure on Israel to cease its attacks and human rights violations in the blockaded city.
He has spoken with 27 world leaders, including U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Palestinian and Israeli presidents Mahmoud Abbas and Isaac Herzog, as well as other region’s prime ministers and presidents in the past month.
Unlike Western countries, Türkiye doesn’t consider Hamas a terrorist organization and argues the issue isn’t limited to the resistance group, citing over seven decades of “Israeli occupation of Palestine.”
“For a full 22 days, Israel has been overtly committing war crimes. We are working on it and will introduce Israel as a war criminal to the world,” Erdoğan said on Oct. 28.
Subsequently, he announced Türkiye would take Israel’s “war crimes” in Gaza to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Since 2002, Turkish diplomacy has adopted a stance that recognizes the Palestinian people’s right to independence and to establish their own state.