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Israel allows Turkey to import construction materials into Gaza for hospital

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JERUSALEM — Israel says it is allowing building materials into the Gaza Strip for the construction of a Turkish hospital in the crowded seaside strip.

Thursday's announcement is a new sign that Israel and Turkey could be close to ending a four-year rift.

Relations broke down in 2010 after an Israeli naval raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla killed nine Turkish citizens. Reconciliation efforts have repeatedly stalled, but this week Turkey's deputy prime minister said an agreement may be near.

Israel has maintained a blockade of Gaza since Hamas militants took power in 2007. Turkey began construction of the Gaza hospital in 2011, smuggling in materials from Egypt.

With the tunnels closed, Israel said Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon had agreed to ease the blockade to allow Turkey to ship in materials from Israel.

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