ANKARA - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said Israel's operation in Gaza was blocking efforts to patch up relations undermined by by a 2010 attack by Israeli commandos on a Turkish ship that had been challenging its blockade of the Palestinian territory.

Close Turkish-Israeli relations, which also involved security cooperation and joint military exercises, had been an important part of the United States' regional policy.

"We cannot normalize (relations). First, this cruelty must end," Erdogan said during a speech in the central Turkish city of Yozgat late on Thursday.

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