JERUSALEM: Israel has authorised Turkey to send staff and equipment to a new hospital which is under construction in the Gaza Strip following a diplomatic request from Ankara, an Israeli official said yesterday.
An Israeli newspaper considered close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the approval was a gesture aimed at thawing relations between the one-time allies which became icy following a 2010 Israeli raid on a ship seeking to break the Jewish state’s Gaza blockade, in which nine Turkish activists were killed.
“This appears to be an important step in helping produce reconciliation between Turkey and Israel,” Israel Hayom said.
Guy Inbar, a spokesman for the Israeli defence ministry body that coordinates with the Palestinians, said construction of the new hospital had been carried out without Israeli approval or involvement, with materials apparently smuggled through tunnels under the border with Egypt.
“The approval is for the contents of the hospital and for about 25 Turkish professional staff to work there,” he said, saying the equipment would be sent to Ashdod port in southern Israel then taken to Gaza in trucks.
Palestinian officials in Gaza said construction of the building was almost complete. The hospital is being built on the site of the former Netzarim settlement in central Gaza, which was evacuated during Israel’s 2005 pullout from the territory. Israel Hayom said the shipment would include boilers, thermostats, radiators, drinking-water systems and fire-extinguishing equipment.
Iraq to sign prisoner swap deal with Britain
BAGHDAD: Baghdad said yesterday it has authorised the justice minister to sign a prisoner swap deal with Britain that could see a British security guard convicted of murder in Iraq head home to serve the rest of his life sentence.
Justice Minister Hassan Al Shammari and British officials have been discussing the deal, which would allow the transfer of convicts between the two countries, since at least January.
A key beneficiary would be Danny Fitzsimons, who became the first Western contractor to be convicted of a crime by an Iraqi court when he was sentenced to life in prison in February 2011 for killing a Briton and an Australian in Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone in August 2009.
An Iraqi cabinet statement yesterday said ministers had given Shammari “the power to negotiate and sign a draft agreement for transferring convicted prisoners between Iraq and Britain”.
Two Israelis get jail for illegal entry in Egypt
CAIRO: An Egyptian court has sentenced two Israelis to two years in prison for illegally entering the country, a judicial source said yesterday.
The court issued the verdict on Monday, the source said. Andrey Pshenichnikov, 24, and Ahmed Daif, 33, appear to have entered Egypt separately. Police had arrested Pshenichikov in Taba, on the border with Israel, on suspicion of spying. Israeli media had identified him as a Russian-born immigrant to Israel who had been arrested by the Israeli Shin Bet security service last year over his pro-Palestinian activism. In October 2011, Egypt freed a US-Israeli citizen under a prisoner exchange after he was arrested in Cairo and accused of working for Israel’s Mossad spy agency and sowing sectarian strife in Egypt, allegations he denied.
Governor of Riyadh Prince Sattam dies
Riyadh: Governor of Riyadh Region Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz Al Saud died yesterday, Saudi Royal Court said in a statement. Saudi Press Agency quoting the statement said that the funeral prayer will be performed today after Asr prayer at Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque in Riyadh. Agencies