Hamas hopes to gain seaport from Israel-Turkey reconciliation

Hamas says it is hopeful an emerging deal to restore ties between Israel and Turkey will result in the construction of a port on the coast of the impoverished Gaza Strip.

Turkey has stipulated that it will not normalize ties with Israel, ruptured in 2010, unless Israel lifts its naval blockade on Gaza. Hamas, the rulers of the Gaza Strip, hope a seaport might be built if Israel does lift its restrictions.

Israel insists, however, that the blockade is necessary to prevent weapons-making and tunnel building materials from entering the Strip, which would serve Hamas and other Gaza terrorist groups in targeting Israeli civilians.

Hamas official Mushir al-Masri said Thursday that “Gaza will explode” if the blockade is not lifted.

An Israeli official said defense officials have discussed the possibility of a port for Gaza, but no decisions have been made. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, refused to say what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s position was.

Meanwhile, another senior Hamas official told the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat on Thursday that “Israel is interested in easing the restrictions on the residents of the Strip, for fear of destabilizing the security situation in the south [of Israel].”

There was no immediate comment from Turkey.