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

NATO member Turkey and Israel are both US allies and their once close relations, which extended to security cooperation and joint military exercises, were an important part of Washington's 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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