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Erdogan reportedly holding up Israeli medical shipment in Turkey

Turkey is reportedly holding up hundreds of crates of medical equipment purchased by Israelis to aid in Israel’s fight against the coronavirus.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded that a similar amount of equipment be transferred to the Palestinians before the Israeli supplies are released in a move Israeli authorities decried as propaganda, Channel 12 reported.

The gear was purchased by Israelis, but not by the government, with Turkish authorities’ permission to export it to Israel, the report said.

Before the equipment was loaded onto planes for transport to Israel, Erdogan’s office halted the move, demanding that Turkey be allowed to transfer a similar amount of gear directly to the Palestinians.

Israeli officials were angered by the demand, calling it propaganda and saying that anyone who wants to directly transfer equipment to the Palestinians was already permitted to do so.

The crates are being held in an Istanbul warehouse and contain gear, including personal protective equipment, which was produced in Turkey, one of the world’s leading suppliers of medical equipment.

The equipment was meant to be used in Israeli medical facilities, including Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Channel 12 reported.

On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that Turkey was supplying personal protective equipment to Israel, including surgical masks, overalls and sterile gloves.

The report quoted an unnamed senior Turkish official as saying that Ankara had approved the sale of medical equipment to Israel for humanitarian reasons and that Jerusalem would reciprocate by allowing similar Turkish aid to the Palestinians.

However, Israeli sources told the Hebrew-language 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.

According to Bloomberg, the Turkish official said that three planes from Israel were to have landed Thursday at the Incirlik air base, which is also home to a US Air Force contingent, to pick up the cargo. The official said Turkey would donate medical aid to the Palestinians within the next few days.

Turkey has provided protective equipment to over a dozen nations hard hit by the coronavirus crisis, including to five Balkan countries, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.