Arab Idol star: Turkey 'paid the price' for Gaza support
GENEVA – A high-profile Palestinian singer and UN goodwill ambassador has said Turkey has been the biggest support of Gaza but has "paid the price for it".
Arab Idol winner, Mohammed Assaf – also known as 'The Rocket' – was speaking to Anadolu Agency in Geneva as part of his role with the UNWRA refugee agency.
"Turkey has been the most supportive of Gaza and it paid the price for it," said the 25-year-old singer recalling Israeli commandos’ attack on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara aid flotilla in May 2010.
Ten people died in the incident, which saw relations between Turkey and Israel plummet to a new low.
Assaf, who is in Europe to perform a concert in support of Palestinian refugees, stated that he played shows to raise awareness of the Palestinian issue.
"I grew up in a refugee camp; because of the [Gaza] siege I know how difficult it can be," he said.
"Now I want to give a message of peace and hope with my songs."
Assaf was appointed as UNRWA's goodwill ambassador in June 2013, after winning the television singing competition, Arab Idol. Since then he has been raising the issue of his homeland with the international community.
UNRWA Geneva representative Raheek Rinawi-Ador added that Turkey had provided $7 million in assistance to Gaza this year and was "a pioneer in campaigning for other donors".
More than 2,100 Gazans, mostly civilians, were killed and nearly 11,000 injured during seven weeks of Israel’s ‘Operation Protective Edge’ in July and August last year.
The UN says more than 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed during the offensive and the enclave's infrastructure largely wiped out in the heavy bombardment.