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ANKARA: Turkiye’s health minister said on Thursday that he had urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to guarantee the provision of medical services to Gazans hit by the Israel-Hamas war, and that its efforts so far were insufficient.

The WHO vigorously defended its actions, saying it had been striving to get supplies into Gaza since the start of the emergency.

NATO member Turkiye has so far sent nine cargo planes of aid to Egypt for the Gaza Strip, and offered to set up a field hospital in Egypt to help treat the wounded and fly some to Turkiye if necessary. It has condemned Israel’s attacks on the Palestinian enclave and called for an immediate ceasefire to allow more humanitarian aid in.

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said he had reminded WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a letter sent on Wednesday of the WHO’s professional responsibility to help civilians in need and told him that its efforts should be “much greater than what you have done so far”.

“WHO, with its responsibility of leadership and by taking necessary initiatives urgently, must ensure the safety of healthcare provisions in Gaza,” Koca wrote in the letter, which he posted on X, formerly Twitter.

“WHO has, throughout this crisis, called for unimpeded humanitarian access for supplies and staff into Gaza, for the protection of health services, health workers and civilians, and for a humanitarian ceasefire,” a spokesperson said in emailed comments to Reuters. Tedros had personally met with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Oct. 9 to request his support for getting aid supplies through the Rafah crossing, he added.

Turkiye has toughened its criticism of Israel as the fighting and humanitarian crisis in Gaza have intensified.

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