Turkey building hospital in Gaza despite difficulties

July 19, 2011, Tuesday/ 17:02:00

Turkey, Palestine and Egypt, led by the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA), are working together despite all odds to build a 150-bed hospital in the Gaza Strip.

A further step in its efforts to contribute to the well being of Gazans suffering from the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, Turkey has initiated a project which should lead to the completion of the Turkey-Palestine Friendship Hospital as a more permanent fixture of Turkey's humanitarian aid as various humanitarian aid organizations and nongovernmental organizations can only provide in limited amounts temporary aid -- medical supplies and food -- to the people in war-torn Gaza, which suffers from a serious shortage of humanitarian supplies and construction materials due to the blockade.

The project for the hospital was undertaken by Aker Construction in April of last year, but the company faced many challenges during the building process as the availability of construction materials fell short and difficulties at the border crossings made for delays as materials could not be delivered on time.

“The term for a project such as this is two years, but we had to reassess the situation due to the difficulties we had under the blockade,” Mehmet Cahit Ababay, project coordinator at Aker Construction, said on Tuesday. He, nevertheless, stressed that the hospital will be completed by the end of the two-year period. Considering the construction project a matter of national pride, Ababay said, “When the hospital is finally built, everyone will say Turkey and the Turks built it.”

The construction of the hospital is a joint effort by Turkey, Palestine and Egypt, led by Turkey, with the support of the Palestinian National Authority and authorized by Gaza's Hamas administration on the ground. Egypt is expected to contribute by easing inspections at border crossings to see to the timely delivery of materials needed for the construction work, but the country is experiencing difficulties in making good on its promise due to pressure from Israel and the current blockade of Gaza.

When completed, the hospital will boast approximately 34,000 square meters of space. Designed as a social complex, the hospital will accommodate polyclinics and conference and training rooms of the Islamic University of Gaza. The construction company will, for the time being, construct hospital buildings and carry out environmental planning as fitting the interior and stocking the hospital with medical supplies will take place during the second phase of the project.

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