'Israel to allow Turkey to build Gaza hospital'

Turkish daily reports J'lem permits entry of construction materials as part of easing of blockade agreed, gesture to Turks.

February 11, 2013 20:05
1 minute read.
Mashaal and Erdogan meet in Ankara

Mashaal and Erdogan meet in Ankara 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Israel has authorized Turkey to transport construction materials into the Gaza Strip in order to build a Turkish-funded hospital in the coastal territory, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported on Monday.

According to the report, the hospital will be inaugurated within a year's time, and the ceremony will be attended by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Israeli government gave the authorization earlier this month after studying a list of materials the Turks were asking to import to Gaza. Hurriyet stated that Israel gave permission to transport the construction materials to Gaza as a gesture of goodwill toward Turkey.

Turkey has long opposed Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip and relations between the countries deteriorated in the aftermath of the IDF's raid of the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara vessel in May 2010, in which nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists were killed.

The hospital is slated to contain 150 beds, making it Gaza's biggest hospital, Hurriyet reported.

In addition to serving as a goodwill gesture to Ankara, the Israeli move was also described by Hurriyet as part of Israel's softening of the Gaza blockade in the aftermath of Operation Pillar of Defense.

Turkey has called for the lifting of the Gaza blockade, as well as an apology to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara raid and compensation for the families of those killed, as conditions to normalize relations between the countries.

Hurriyet quoted diplomatic sources in Ankara as saying the January 22 Knesset election in Israel could provide a new opportunity to pacify relations between the countries.

“Although I do not want to seem too optimistic over reconciliation between the two countries, I see a window of opportunity in light of the election results,” the sources told Hurriyet.

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