Turkey responds to UN’s appeal to assist Palestinians

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Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) has donated $1.2 million — through a campaign launched in Turkey — to the World Health Organization (WHO) with a view to providing the Gaza Strip with urgent medical assistance.

The donation was disbursed to Gaza after an agreement was signed between Erman Topcu, Turkey's charge d'affaires in Jerusalem, and Mahmoud Dahir, director of the WHO's office in Gaza.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency on Monday, Topcu condemned recent Israeli violence against unarmed demonstrators in the Gaza Strip.

“Scores of Palestinians were killed during these recent terrible incidents [in Gaza], especially on May 14,” he said, going on to point out that another 13,000 had been injured by Israeli army gunfire.

Noting that the UN had requested urgent assistance following the carnage, Topcu pointed out that Turkey had answered the appeal by disbursing $1.2 million through AFAD.

“At least 165,000 Palestinian medical patients and injured will directly benefit from this aid, while 350,000 others will be able to make use of it indirectly,” he said.

According to Topcu, Turkey has already received messages of gratitude from both the UN and the Palestinian leadership.

“And the aid we’re sending isn’t restricted to this disbursement alone,” he said. “All our state institutions swung into action following the recent incidents [in Gaza].”

“The Turkish Aid Agency (TIKA) is also coordinating with the Palestinian Health Ministry and has begun providing badly-needed medical equipment,” he added.

According to Topcu, the Turkish Red Crescent also sent medical supplies to its Palestinian counterpart in the immediate wake of the violence.

“The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is nothing new; it’s been underway for a long time. According to the UN, Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020,” he warned.

He went on to point out that some 30,000 Palestinians had received food aid from TIKA since the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan began earlier this month.

“TIKA has delivered more than 20,000 food-aid packages throughout the West Bank and Gaza,” he said.

Topcu added that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), of which Turkey currently holds the rotating presidency, had made it a priority to improve the socioeconomic conditions faced by occupied East Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents.

“Thanks to TIKA, we have launched a project to provide financial support to needy families and shopkeepers in East Jerusalem’s Old City district,” he said.

Topcu noted that many Turkish people, as well as Turkish state agencies, were currently present in Palestine.

“Our people visiting Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque aren’t just going for tourism; they also stand with the people there,” he said, adding that Turkey was providing Palestine with both humanitarian and political support.

“We will continue to support the Palestinian cause,” he asserted.

Dahir, for his part, thanked Turkey for its swift response to the UN’s appeal for aid.

“The WHO announced it was in urgent need of $1.1 million to meet Palestine’s medical needs and Turkey responded in the nick of time with a $1.2-million donation,” he said.

“Many people were injured during the recent violence in Gaza,” he said. “We hope this aid will mitigate the pain they feel.”

Dahir pointed out, however, that a further $19 million was needed to meet Gaza’s rapidly mounting medical costs.

Tension has been high in the Palestinian territories since the U.S. relocated its embassy earlier this month from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, sparking condemnation and protest across the Arab and Muslim world.

Since Mar. 30, more than 115 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli army gunfire — and thousands more injured — during ongoing anti-occupation protests in the eastern Gaza Strip.

Protesters demand the “right of return” to their homes in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.

*Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this story from Ankara

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