ANKARA, (AFP) – Turkey expects three boats seized in a deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla to return home “within several days,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted as saying Friday.
“We expect the process of the ships’ return to be completed after technical preparations are finished within several days,” Davutoglu said during a visit to Vietnam, the Anatolia news agency reported.
He said Israel had informed the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv of its decision to release the vessels, held since May 31 when Israeli commandos raided a flotilla carrying aid to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, killing nine Turkish activists.
“There were certain steps Israel was supposed to take, and this was one of them. We hope the remaining thing will be also done,” Davutoglu said.
The bloodshed on the aid flotilla sparked a deep crisis in already strained relations between Turkey and Israel, once close allies.
Ankara has urged the Jewish state to apologise, compensate the families of the victims and lift the blockade of Gaza to repair the relations.
The decision to release the boats was taken by the seven ministers of Israel’s inner cabinet and is expected to be implemented in the coming days, Israeli public radio reported earlier Friday.
The Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara, on which the bloodshed occurred, is currently docked in an Israeli naval base in the northern port city of Haifa.
The other boats are docked in the southern port of Ashdod.
Davutoglu said the vessels would be brought home by tugboats, waiting on stand-by at Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Mersin.