Israel allows Turkey to send goods to Gaza

Feb. 12, 2013 at 7:15 AM
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ANKARA, Turkey, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Israel will permit construction materials from Turkey to enter the Gaza Strip to build a Turkish-Palestinian hospital, officials said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan may attend the inauguration of the Turkey-Palestine Friendship Hospital in Gaza in a year's time, the Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News reported.

The Israeli government described the move as a goodwill gesture to Turkey, the newspaper said. Unnamed Turkish officials said they view Israel's agreement more a humanitarian move than a political gesture.

"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," a diplomatic source told the Hurriyet Daily News.

Israel authorized the shipment Feb.4 after reviewing a list of materials the Turks asked to send to the Gaza Strip.

The planned 150-bed hospital will be the largest in the Gaza Strip. It is to be financed by the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency and will be constructed by the Aker Construction Co., the newspaper said.

Relations between Israel and Turkey sank following the deaths of nine Turkish activists killed by Israeli commandos in a raid on a ship that was trying to cross an Israeli blockade to enter Gaza in May 2010.

The activists said the ship was part of a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid. The Israeli said they found weaponry and banned construction materials on the ships.

Since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, Israel has limited construction materials entering Gaza to prevent Hamas from strengthen its so-called terror infrastructure. Israel frequently permits the entry of humanitarian aid, medicine and foods to Gaza, however.

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