Middle East, News

Turkey to restore mosques in Gaza

Israel has approved the transfer of construction materials to the Gaza Strip for a Turkish project to restore nine mosques devastated during Israel’s Gaza offensive last year.

Turkey’s top religious authority, the Presidency of Religious Affairs (DİB), known for its construction of mosques across the globe, is spearheading the project for damaged mosques in Gaza where more than 2,000 people were killed and 73 mosques were destroyed the previous summer.

After the quartet of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia, which mediates the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, approved the project, Israel last Thursday allowed a transfer of construction materials to Gaza. Funds had already been channeled to Gaza, and restoration work will start as soon as the materials arrive in Gaza, sources said.

The nine mosques to be restored by Turkey all carry great symbolism and meaning for Palestinians.

Turkey has already started re-construction of a hospital in Gaza. Another project by Turkey in the works is a slaughterhouse.

The country pledged aid to Gaza after the Gaza offensive. Last year, $76.3 million worth of was sent to Gaza, and Turkey aims to contribute up to $200 million to aid efforts for Gaza by 2017.

Serdar Çam, chairman of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA), the country’s state-run agency known for the development assistance it provides to almost every part of the world, earlier told AA that Turkey’s aid to Gaza was to be delivered between 2015 and 2017 and described news reports accusing Turkey of not delivering the aid as “misinformation.”

The aid will gradually be delivered to Gaza either in the form of immediate humanitarian aid or through infrastructure projects. This will include the rebuilding of demolished residences and education services apart from the delivery of water, fuel and food aid. Çam said Turkey would not back out of its promise and its commitment would be realized over three years. “The blockade of Gaza and the slow bureaucratic process in receiving permission for aid delivery slows down delivery. Moreover, a report on the exact amount of aid will be released next year after all planned deliveries and projects are realized. Then it will be clear how much Turkey spent,” he said. Çam said construction of 300 residences at a cost of $20 million was currently on hold due to the blockade, but that other forms of aid were being processed, such as treatment of Palestinians in Turkey who were injured in the Israeli offensive and delivery of fuel.

Resource: Daily Sabah, September 06, 2015


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