Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, still trying to sell the diplomatic rapprochement with Turkey after six years, assured reporters today that the improved diplomatic ties won’t mean any change to the Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The Israel-Turkey split happened in May 2010, when the Israeli Navy attacked a Turkish-flagged aid ship bound for the Gaza Strip, killing nine aid workers aboard. Israel declared everyone on board terrorists at the time, but has ultimately agreed to pay compensation for their deaths.
Israel imposed the blockade on the Strip in 2007, after Hamas took over the area. Though Israel allows very limited amounts of humanitarian goods into the strip through land crossings, they have banned all ship travel to the strip, and have repeatedly confronted aid ships militarily for getting too close.
Netanyahu insisted it remains “a supreme security interest” of Israel to maintain the nearly decade-long blockade, and that there could be no compromise with Turkey on the matter. After the 2010 killings, Turkey threatened to send future aid ships with a naval convoy, but have never attempted to do so.