Turkey aids Israel in time of coronavirus despite tense relations

On Tuesday a Turkish plane landed in Israel with stranded Arab Israelis, and three planes with medical equipment are expected to land soon.

The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Istanbul, Turkey (photo credit: REUTERS/UMIT BEKTAS)
The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Istanbul, Turkey
(photo credit: REUTERS/UMIT BEKTAS)
Despite past tensions between the two countries, Turkey has made efforts to help Isarel amid the coronavirus outbreak, flying stranded Israelis and Palestinians back to their home country, and according to Bloomberg News, supplying Israel with medical equipment.
The shipment of face masks, protective suits and sterile gloves was approved for humanitarian reasons and a similar shipment is expected to be sent to the Palestinian territories within the next few days, according to a senior Turkish official in Ankara.
Three planes from Israel were expected to land at the southern Incirlik Air Base to pick up the cargo on Thursday, said the official.
Additionally a Turkish plane landed in Israel on Tuesday, loaded with 120 stranded Israeli Arabs and Palestinians from East Jerusalem that were studying in Turkey, according to Channel 13.
Responsible for the for the operation was MK and Joint List member Ahmed Tibi, who asked IsraAir two weeks ago to fly to Turkey to retrieve the students. IsraAir agreed, but the first problem of many arose, as security forces requested to board the flight to Turkey armed. Turkey refused and the flight was cancelled for security reasons. 
Tibi then turned to Turkish officials and explained to them the situation, requesting again and again for help until Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to use Turkish resources to fly the  students back.
The operation was nearly ready to take off until both the Shin Bet and COGAT  (Cooditnator of Government Activities in the Territories) wouldn't allow the Palestinians to land in Ben-Gurion airport in Tel Aviv.
Of just over 200 students that were supposed to leave Turkey, 100 had to stay behind, and the flight took off with the remaining 120 students.
Israel and Turkey have traded barbs and reduced ties during President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's time in office, after 10 civilians were killed during clashes with Israeli commandos on a Turkish flotilla headed for the Gaza Strip in 2010.
Last year, Israel's envoy to the United Nations stated that Turkey is a "regional hub for terrorism" and that Erdogan has been "destablizing the region through violence and supporting terror organizations."
Turkey's UN envoy Feridun Sinirlioglu shot back by charging that Israel's government had been "hijacked by a terrorist state of mind."
Turkey has reported 42,282 cases of the coronavirus, leading to 908 deaths, according to John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. 2,142 people have recovered in the country.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.