Turkey-Israel talks on ending Gaza blockade progress

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Gaza, Feb 19 (IANS) Talks between Turkey and Israel over ending around nine years of Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip have made progress, a senior Islamic Hamas movement official said on Friday.

Hamas deputy chief Ismail Heneya told a prayer congregation at one of Gaza city’s mosques that the Turkish talks with Israel aim at speeding up the construction plan for Gaza and its seaport, Xinhua reported.

Haneya did not give more details on the issue. However, a senior Turkish official had announced two days ago that talks on normalising ties between his country and Israel, that have been going on for a long time, have reached their final stage.

Israel Public Radio reported that according to Turkish official, the two countries were very close to signing an agreement on all issues the two sides have been negotiating and discussing.

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Turkey had conditioned an end of the Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip for the normalisation of political and economical ties with Israel. The blockade was imposed in 2007, following Hamas’s violent takeover of the coastal enclave.

Meanwhile, Haneya said his movement’s armed wing, al-Qassam Brigades, discovered listening devices and cameras underground to unveil the armed resistance tunnels that militants dig underneath Gaza.

“Gaza has now a deterrence power for any upcoming confrontation with Israel,” Haneya said, adding “there is no imminent war (with Israel) on Gaza in the horizon”.

He said the Israeli occupation is carrying out defensive manoeuvres “and this is a clear evidence that they (Israelis) are not preparing to wage a war on the Gaza Strip soon”.

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