TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT HEALTH TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A Palestinian, who was injured in clashes in the Gaza strip, is carried on a stretcher to an ambulance after the arrival of a group of injured Palestinians at Ankara's Esenboga airport, early August 11, 2014. Four wounded Palestinians from the Gaza Strip arrived in the Turkish capital early on Monday after being flown in for medical treatment, with more expected, in a move announced by prime minister and president-elect Tayyip Erdogan. "In the first stage we plan to bring to Turkey, and treat, maybe 200 patients," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, adding that further patients would be brought by planes in groups of around 40 after agreeing the move in talks with Israel and Egypt. REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT HEALTH TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR41XLT Umit Bektas/Reuters
Several Palestinians severely wounded in the Gaza Strip were flown to Turkey for medical treatment Monday as a 72-hour ceasefire held and Israeli and Palestinian authorities resumed negotiations in Egypt with hopes of hammering out a lasting peace deal.
Four wounded Palestinians arrived in Ankara, Turkey’s capital, for advanced medical treatment. Turkey has promised plan to evacuate thousands from the Gaza Strip.
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Turkey said last week it was seeking Israeli and Egyptian agreement for an air corridor to provide humanitarian aid to Palestinians affected by the recent violence. Officials say 1,938 Palestinians have been killed during the conflict. In Israel, 67 people have been killed — all but three of them soldiers.
"Our wounded from Gaza have started to come," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters meeting the flight from Israel's commercial hub Tel Aviv.
Medics carried three Palestinian women and a male youth on stretchers into waiting ambulances at Ankara's Esenboga airport.
Eager to re-establish itself as a powerhouse in a rapidly changing Middle East, Turkey is already sheltering more than a million refugees from the war in Syria and is playing a major role in the development of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Osama Al-Najar, spokesman of the ministry of health in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, said another 60 wounded people would be flown into Turkey later on Monday.
An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, that took effect just after midnight local time, held into Monday afternoon despite heavy rocket fire toward Israel in the hours preceeding it.
In Cairo, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said the ceasefire would allow humanitarian aid into battered Gaza neighbourhoods and the reopening of indirect talks on a more lasting and comprehensive deal.
On Monday morning, high school students in Gaza filed the streets as they headed off to pick up their graduation certificates after the Education Ministry said they'd be ready. People waited to buy fuel for generators as power and communication workers struggled to fix cables damaged in the fighting. Long lines formed at ATMs.
In Cairo, negotiators resumed talks shortly after 1 p.m. local time Monday. The four-member Israeli delegation arrived at Cairo International Airport earlier in the morning.
Disagreement over future of blockade
Last week's three-day ceasefire and negotiation process was ultimately fruitless. Egypt had hoped to use that truce to mediate a long-term deal. But when it expired, militants resumed their rocket fire, sparking Israeli reprisals. The violence continued throughout the weekend.
The negotiations, meanwhile, failed in part because Israel rejected Hamas' demand for a complete end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip, enforced by Egypt and Israel. Israel says the closure is necessary to prevent arms smuggling, and officials do not want to make any concessions that would allow Hamas to declare victory.
The blockade has greatly limited the movement of Palestinians in and out of the impoverished territory of 1.8 million people for jobs and schooling. It has also limited the flow of goods into Gaza and blocked virtually all exports. Unemployment there is more than 50 per cent.
Turkish aid group considers new flotilla
A Turkish aid group said it plans to send ships to challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza, four years after Israeli commandos stormed its flotilla bound for the Palestinian territory and killed 10 Turks.
The Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) announcement that a coalition of pro-Palestinian activists from 12 countries had decided to launch a convoy "in the shadow of the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza."
"The Freedom Flotilla Coalition affirmed that, as most governments are complicit, the responsibility falls on civil society to challenge the Israeli blockade on Gaza," it said in a statement after the group met in Istanbul at the weekend.
An IHH spokeswoman did not elaborate. The group will hold a news conference on Tuesday, she said.
Nine Turks died in May 2010 in international waters after Israeli soldiers raided their vessel, the Mavi Marmara, leading a flotilla to break Israel's seven-year blockade of Gaza. A 10th Turkish activist died in May from wounds suffered in the attack.
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