Israeli El Al aircraft lands in Turkey for first time in 10 years


An aircraft belonging to Israeli airline El Al landed on Turkish soil on Sunday for the first time in 10 years following a severe diplomatic spat between the two countries.

An El Al Dreamliner aircraft landed at an Istanbul airport on Sunday, a spokesman for the airline confirmed, marking the first direct Israeli flight to Turkey since a severe crisis between the two countries in 2010.

In Istanbul, the Israeli aircraft loaded around 24 tons of relief goods destined for the United States to help the country in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, the Jerusalem Post wrote.

El Al, which has suffered severe economic damage as a result of the coronavirus crisis, has reportedly also applied to Turkish authorities for permission to resume regular flights. In light of the crisis, the Israeli airline has converted some of its aircraft into cargo planes, the report added.

In May 2010, 10 Turkish citizens were killed when Israeli soldiers stormed the "Mavi Marmara" ship while it moved through international waters in the Mediterranean Sea. Israeli sources claimed the ship was carrying relief supplies for the Gaza Strip and had armed activists on board.

Diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel were put on ice as a result. As part of a reconciliation effort in 2016, Israel paid out 20 million dollars in compensation to the families of the victims.

At the same time, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also pushed through Turkish aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip.

Tensions remain high on both sides, however, along with serious disputes between Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, particularly on the Palestinian issue.    (dpa)

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