Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Thursday accepted the recommendation of Major General Yoav Mordechay, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), to approve the entry of construction materials, electrical equipment, telecoms and plumbing materials to assist and support the construction of a Turkish hospital in Gaza.
According to the Turkish request that Israel approved, the building material comprises 500 truckloads, with 70 truckloads containing electrical and communications equipment.
Major Guy Inbar, the COGAT spokesman, described the background of the hospital project as being emblematic of the instability of the Gazan regime.
In April 2011, the Turkish government, without working with Israel in a any way, began the process of building a hospital on the remains of Netzarim, an ancient settlement in Gaza, via a government company named TIKA, the COGAT spokesman said in a statement. The hospital is being built on an area totaling 34 acres, with six complexes, four to six floors each, and contains 160 beds. The project has an estimated cost of $35 million.
Because of the Turkish government refusal to coordinate the construction with Israel, the construction materials were smuggled through tunnels under Gaza or purchased in local markets.
A compromise was later reached with Turkey agreeing to cooperate with Israel. The first petition approved was to allow the entry of Turkish professional personnel and medical equipment. In March 2013, COGAT approved the entrance of 25 Turkish professionals, and extended their visas up to the first quarter of 2014. Additionally, COGAT approved and coordinated the periodic movement of missions on behalf of the Turkish representation in Israel.
So far, the entry of 115 trucks which transfer equipment from Israel to Gaza was coordinated for the project, COGAT said.
The misuse of construction materials has bedeviled development in Gaza. In October 2013, when the IDF discovered an elaborate concrete tunnel prepared to perpetrate terror attacks within Israel by Hamas or Islamic Jihad soldiers in Gaza, Israel froze the transfer of construction materials for the private sector and international organizations.
In January, the Israeli Defense Minister approved the entry of building materials for UN agencies, once UN and COGAT established a supervision and control mechanism, to prevent the construction materials from falling into the hands of Hamas for use in constructing fortifications and tunnels.
So far, 24 new projects have been approved within the framework of the supervision and control mechanism, COGAT said.