Israel hits Gaza as Turkish minister arrives in Tel Aviv after 7-year gap

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Palestinians run for cover as smoke rises following an Israeli air strike on a Hamas post, in the northern Gaza Strip on February 6, 2017. Israel struck a number of Hamas positions in Gaza after a "projectile" fired from the Palestinian enclave crashed in a border area, the Israeli army said. / AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED

Israeli fighter jets on Monday struck approximately 19 Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip, precisely as Turkish Tourism Minister Nabi Avcı arrived in Tel Aviv for the first high-profile visit to the country since the 2010 Mavi Marmara aid flotilla crisis.

Israel reportedly struck a number of Hamas positions in Gaza after a projectile fired from the Palestinian side crashed into a border area, according to the Israeli army.

Amid these developments Avcı will meet with Israeli Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin on Tuesday and will participate in the 23rd International Mediterranean Tourism Market, meeting with Turkish and Israeli tourism investors.

According to a report from Aljazeera, Avcı will also meet with representatives of the Turkish Jewish community in Israel.

Eitan Naeh, Israel’s new ambassador to Turkey, arrived in Ankara in December after six years of strained relations between the two countries.

The appointment of the new ambassador came after Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz’s visit Turkey on Oct. 13. It was the first ministerial visit to Turkey since the eruption of a 2010 crisis in ties.

Turkey appointed Kemal Ökem, a foreign policy adviser to the prime minister, as ambassador to Israel, cementing the normalization of diplomatic relations after a partial, six-year rupture.

Turkey and Israel stepped to normalize relations in August after the Turkish Parliament approved a deal for Israel to pay compensation to victims of the 2010 assault on the Mavi Marmara, a ship carrying humanitarian aid to the besieged people of Gaza.

Parliament in August approved a bill that instructed Israel to pay $20 million to the families as part of a normalization agreement between the two countries struck in July after a six-year freeze in relations.

In September, Israel deposited $20 million in the account of the Turkish Ministry of Justice as compensation for victims of the Mavi Marmara flotilla.

Israeli commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara while it was in international waters, killing nine activists on board and injuring 30. One of the injured activists subsequently died, bringing the death toll to 10.

Turkey demanded an official apology from Israel, compensation for the families of those killed and the lifting of Israel’s Gaza blockade. Three years ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed regret over the incident to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, then Turkey’s prime minister and now the country’s president.

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