Turkey has sent supplies such as protective equipment and sanitiser to a number of countries, including Israel and the UK, to help them step up their fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Turkish media is reporting that the supplies have also been sent to Balkan countries, as well as the U.S., Spain, Italy, Libya, Iran, Northern Cyprus and Pakistan.
On Friday a Turkish military cargo plane carrying medical supplies for use against the coronavirus pandemic arrived in the UK. The aid package included protective masks and overalls.
“At the direction of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish Armed Forces aircraft that will transport to United Kingdom the medical aid supplies prepared by Turkey’s Health Ministry to be used in the fight against Covid-19 has departed Etimesgut/Ankara,” the Turkish Defence Ministry said on Twitter.
The medical aid supplies also carried a message for the people of the UK, saying: “After hopelessness, there is so much hope and after darkness, there is the much brighter sun – Rumi.”
Bloomberg reported on Thursday that the Turkish government approved the sale of medical equipment to Israel which is expected to allow a shipment of Turkish aid to reach Palestinian authorities without any hold-ups, according to a senior Turkish official in Ankara.
However, Israeli sources told the Ynet news site that the report was inaccurate — that the deal was commercial, not humanitarian, in nature and that there was no connection to aid to the Palestinians.
Bloomberg reported that Turkey is supplying personal protective equipment to Israel, including surgical masks, overalls and sterile gloves to help the country fight the coronavirus outbreak.
According to Bloomberg, a Turkish official said that three planes from Israel were to have landed on Thursday at the Incirlik air base, which is also home to a U.S. Air Force contingent, to pick up the cargo. The official said Turkey would donate medical aid to the Palestinians within the next few days.
Relations between Israel and Turkey soured after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took power in 2003 and hit a nadir in 2010 after the Mavi Marmara incident, in which Israeli commandos boarded a ship trying to break the maritime blockade of Gaza and killed 10 Turks.
Despite the souring of ties, trade (with the exception of military sales) between the two former strategic allies has remained robust. Turkey was Israel’s No.7 export destination in 2019.
Turkey also sent 500,000 coronavirus test kits to the U.S. upon their request, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.
In a speech to parliament, Koca said that Ankara aimed to increase rapidly its own testing within Turkey and had a target of carrying out 10,000 to 15,000 tests per day.
Turkey’s own COVID-19 death toll has continued to rise. The country recorded 96 deaths on April 9, taking the total toll to 908, with the number of confirmed cases increasing by 4,056 to 42,282, according to figures released by the health ministry in Ankara.