* Ankara plans to bring some 200 patients initially
* "Air corridor" launched after Erdogan election win
* Turkey hosting more than a million Syrian refugees
(Adds ministry comment, details, background)
By Mert Ozkan and Nidal al-Mughrabi
ANKARA, Aug 11 Four wounded Palestinians were
flown into Ankara for medical treatment on Monday, the first
sign of Turkey's promised plan to evacuate thousands from the
Turkey said last week it was seeking Israeli and Egyptian
agreement for an air corridor to provide humanitarian aid to
Gaza after a month of bloodshed that has killed 1,910
Palestinians and 67 Israelis.
"Our wounded from Gaza have started to come," Turkish
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters meeting the
flight from Israel's commercial hub Tel Aviv.
Medics carried three Palestinian women and a male youth on
stretchers into waiting ambulances at Ankara's Esenboga airport.
Eager to re-establish itself as a powerhouse in a rapidly
changing Middle East, Turkey is already sheltering more than a
million refugees from the war in Syria and is playing a major
role in the development of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Despite crumbling relations with Israel, it also hopes
through its ties with the Palestinian authorities to play a part
in brokering a long-term settlement in the Gaza Strip.
Pro-Palestinian sentiment runs high in mostly Sunni Muslim
Turkey, and protesters have repeatedly taken to the streets in
recent weeks to demonstrate against Israel's offensive in Gaza.
The first four wounded arrived a day after Israel and the
Palestinians agreed a fresh 72-hour ceasefire.
Osama Al-Najar, spokesman of the ministry of health in
Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, said another 60 wounded
people would be flown into Turkey later on Monday.
The Palestinian Authority had helped organise the transfer
of the wounded people from Gaza to Israel and then to Turkey, he
Davutoglu said Turkey planned to bring in around 200 wounded
in the first stage of the plan and would hold further talks with
Israel and Egypt - which has acted as a mediator in the conflict
- to agree more flights.
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan announced the launch
of the air corridor in his first speech after winning Sunday's
He described his victory as a triumph for Gaza. In
campaigning ahead of the election, Erdogan had likened Israel's
actions in Gaza to those of Hitler and warned it would "drown in
the blood it sheds".
Israel, which denounced Erdogan's comments, says its
offensive is intended to stop rocket fire from Gaza and to
destroy tunnels some of which have been used by gunmen to
(Additional reporting by Tulay Karadeniz in Ankara and Nidal
al-Mughrabi in Ramallah; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by
Seda Sezer and Andrew Heavens)