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Coronavirus: Turkey sends medical shipment to both Palestine and Israel

Ankara ships 14 tonnes of aid to the West Bank and Gaza, while Israel has purchased a similar batch of medical supplies
A man waves a Palestinian flag while wearing a mask to protect from coronavirus (AFP)
By Ragip Soylu in Ankara

Turkey is sending medical aid to Palestine in the fight against coronavirus, which will include masks, hazmat suits, testing kits and other material, a senior Turkish official said on Thursday.

Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said the medical equipment will be shipped Thursday evening to be distributed to the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip.

“Turkey is a foul-weather friend. Our principle: Let not humanity die so humans won’t die,” Kalin said in a tweet.

A 14-tonne shipment, containing 40,000 testing kits, 100,000 N95 masks, 40,000 hazmat suits, 100,000 gloves, 20,000 protective overalls, 2,000kg of disinfectant and four PCR testing devices  will be equally divided between Gaza and the West Bank's Ramallah, which are ruled by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) respectively.

An Israeli official source told Middle East Eye that Turkey had officially asked permission from Israel's government to send the cargo through Ben Gurion airport and on to Ramallah and Gaza.

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"The government was happy to grant the permission," the source said. Israel will be also responsible for transfering the cargo from airport to its final destinations. 

Turkey is set to send a medical cargo containing similar types of equipment to Israel on Friday, which were purchased by two local hospitals, two Turkish officials told Middle East Eye.

'Turkey is a foul-weather friend. Our principle: Let not humanity die so humans won’t die'

- Ibrahim Kalin, presidential aide

One official said it took more than 20 days to supply the goods destined for Israel because of the bureaucratic process.

“We had to get an export exemption from the health ministry,” the official said. But the sense in Ankara is that Turkey was trying to appear as neutral between the two countries, by sending the shipments in a simultaneous manner.

The Israeli source said that the tw0 shipments were carried out in a seperate track and they weren't conditioned to each other. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had two phone calls with his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas earlier this month, and promised help against the coronavirus pandemic. Together, the West Bank and Gaza Strip have recorded 344 positive cases and two deaths from Covid-19.

Even though Ankara enjoys friendly relations with the Palestinian Authority, several Turkish sources told MEE earlier this year that Abbas is keeping a distance from Erdogan's government due to its close engagement with PA rival Hamas.

Turkey itself has been hit hard by the virus, with a death toll of more than 3,000 and some 119,000 people testing positive. However, the country’s intensive care units have not been overwhelmed and the shortages of food and basic supplies experienced in shops across the world have not materialised in Turkey. 

The Turkish government announced earlier this week that Ankara has sent aid and equipment to at least 57 countries fighting coronavirus, including the UK, Spain, Italy and Balkan countries.

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