Israel's leader has announced the restoration of normal diplomatic relations with Turkey after apologising for the deaths of nine Turkish activists in a 2009 Israeli naval raid on a Gaza-bound international flotilla.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today that he had expressed regret during a phone call with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

US President Barack Obama helped arrange the call shortly before leaving Israel.

The flotilla incident severely harmed ties between the once-close allies. Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Israel, and diplomatic ties and military cooperation were greatly scaled back.

Mr Netanyahu said the "tragic results" were not intentional and Israel "expressed remorse" for the loss of life. He cited "operational mistakes."

The boat was carrying activists trying to breach Israel's blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

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