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Turkish humanitarian aid plane takes off for Gaza

A military plane carrying humanitarian aid for Palestinians in besieged Gaza took off early on Wednesday from central Türkiye for Al-Arish Airport in Egypt.

The C-130 Hercules military plane laden with 8 tons of medicine, medical supplies and nine health care workers, including doctors and nurses, left Kayseri Airport at 8 a.m. local time, Turkish authorities said.

The health care crew will tend to people injured in Israeli attacks as part of aid efforts with the Egyptian Health Ministry.

The shipment includes incubators, anesthetic apparatus, newborn ventilators, operating tables, ceiling lights and many other medical devices, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said via X.

He also announced the plane would return to Türkiye with patients, mostly children and their guardians, for treatment.

“We continue working in coordination with the three countries,” Koca said, meaning Türkiye, Egypt and Israel.

Israel has mounted a brutal offensive by air and ground against Gaza, killing more than 15,000 people, nearly half of whom were children. The offensive was in retaliation to a Hamas incursion in southern Israel on Oct. 7, in which some 1,200 people were killed and 240 were taken captive.

Today, the U.N. says, all 2.4 million people in Gaza are going hungry and the war has displaced 1.65 million. Almost half the houses in Gaza were destroyed or damaged.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that only 10 of the territory’s 36 hospitals were still functioning, with the situation deteriorating since then. It said there are no functioning hospitals in northern Gaza.

Türkiye has so far sent a ship, 11 planes, nearly 700 tons of humanitarian aid and medical supplies, as well as eight field hospitals and 20 ambulances to Al-Arish to be delivered to Gaza.

Working in coordination with Israeli and Egyptian authorities, Turkish officials have already evacuated dozens of injured Gazans and cancer patients, along with premature babies, toddlers and children, to Türkiye for better care.

Efforts are currently underway to set up a field hospital in Egypt’s border region for the civilians in the Palestinian enclave.

Ankara has harshly criticized Israel’s attacks on Gaza and called for an immediate cease-fire to allow for discussions over a two-state solution to the wider Israel-Palestine conflict.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called the Israeli attacks on Gaza a genocide and accused Israel of being a “terror state.” Israel rejects such charges and says it is acting in self-defense against a foe bent on its destruction.

Türkiye also doesn’t consider Hamas a terrorist group, unlike the United States, European Union and some Gulf countries. It has accused the West, apart from Spain and Belgium, of complicity due to their support of Israel.

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