Turkey Sends Virus Gear to Ex-Ally Israel in ‘Humanitarian’ Step

(Bloomberg) --

Turkey is supplying medical equipment to Israel, including face masks, protective overalls and sterile gloves to help the country fight the Covid-19 outbreak, following years of frosty ties.

The Turkish government approved the sale of medical equipment for humanitarian reasons and Israel is expected to allow a similar shipment of Turkish aid to reach Palestinian authorities without any holdups, according to a senior Turkish official in Ankara. Israeli authorities weren’t immediately available for comment on Thursday, which is a public holiday in the country.

It’s too early to say whether the unexpected display of solidarity during the pandemic will pave the way for an improvement in strained relations between Turkey and Israel, once strategic allies.

Before now-President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took power in 2003, Turkey was Israel’s closest partner in the Muslim world, and their militaries had strong ties.

Relations sharply deteriorated in 2010 when a Turkish flotilla bound for the Hamas-run Gaza Strip was raided by Israeli commandos, resulting in the deaths of 10 civilians. Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador, recalled its own envoy and pulled out of joint war games. While Israeli military sales to Turkey were halted, other trade ties proved resilient.

Three planes from Israel are expected to land in southern Incirlik air base to pick the cargo on Thursday, said the official, who’s familiar with the shipment and asked not to be named discussing the sensitive issue. Turkey will donate medical aid for the Palestinians within the next few days, the official said.

Israel has confirmed about 9,000 cases of the virus and more than 50 deaths, and authorities have rolled out steps to protect the economy.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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