By Yusuf Hatip and Ayse Humeyra Atilgan
Turkey’s state-run aid agency has been providing humanitarian assistance to Palestine for the last 10 years.
The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) has carried out 400 projects across Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank since 2005, when it launched an office in Palestine.
The projects focus on facilitating social development projects including infrastructure, health, education and the restoration of historical monuments in Palestine.
Palestine is among the top beneficiaries of TIKA, receiving 30 percent its total aid to the Middle East and African regions.
In the West Bank city of Bethlehem a solar energy system was provided to Palestinian families.
Requested by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the project helps nearly 350 people receive electricity.
It allows residents to operate water pumps and tanks at Abu Zaytun and provides water for around 500 people.
In 2015, fuel was sent to Gaza to relieve energy shortages resulting from infrastructure damage due to Israeli attacks.
An olive oil plant built by TIKA in 2016 furthers economic self-sufficiency for Palestinians.
The plant opened in Abasan al-Kabira, a small town thriving on agriculture in Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. It will be run by the local municipality, and aims to improve olive oil processing in the region by a hub of olive growers in the southern Gaza Strip.
TIKA also initiated the Gaza Collective Housing Project for building 1,000 prefabricated houses to fulfill the need of housing in Gaza Strip, where almost 13 percent of all the houses were damaged.
In 2008, the Ministries of National Education in Palestine and Turkey agreed on the construction of 10 schools in Palestine.
In 2014, TIKA built the four story, 14 classroom Al-Khalil (Hebron) Turkish School and provided all the equipment for the school on the area allocated by the Al-Khalil (Hebron) Municipality.
The school, which has a capacity for 550 students, is currently the most modern in the city.
In 2009, the Tulkarim Rasim Kemal Turkish School was built with a capacity of 160 students, and the Cenin Turkish School served around 650 students.
Similarly, the El-Bireh Turkish Schools for Girls was opened in 2012, and the Nablus Nuri Pakdil High School for Girls one year later -- both can serve nearly 500 students.
The Reshadiye Girls School, which was originally built in 1911 by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed Reshad, was also renovated.
Upon request, TIKA provided the technical equipment needed for the installation of a computer laboratory and security camera system at Shamili Refugee Camp High School for Girls which has 21 classrooms and a total of 557 students.
A Turkey-Palestine Friendship Hospital, which was constructed in late 2015, and planned to launch before 2018, is set to be the largest in Gaza.
In 2012, Tubas Turkish Hospital, which is the first hospital in the 40,000 populated- city of Tubas in West Park, was built and its equipment was supplied by TIKA.
It offers health services for approximately 40,000 patients with people coming from neighbor cities every year.
The institution also donated oxygen generators to the El-Bireh Hospital of the Red Crescent of Palestine and to Al-Ahli hospital which opened in 1993.
Medical equipment was also provided to the European Gaza Hospital.
Preservation of Masjid-al-Aksa Archives
TIKA's projects in the country include the restoration of the Dome of the Rock, also known as Qubbat al-Sakhrah, which is inside the Al-Aqsa mosque complex, and the Al-Quds University 400-student female dormitory project, as well as restarting the Nabi Musa (Tomb of Moses) celebrations which were ended by Israel's 1967 invasion of East Jerusalem.
In the Masjid-al-Aksa archives, there are nearly 600 original manuscripts, court records, certificates, and letters from the period the Ottoman Empire ruled in Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Masjid-al-Aksa Foundation Administration requested assistance from TIKA for the preservation of these archives.
In response, materials needed for the archives under the infrastructure reinforcement project were provided by TIKA. Moreover, a digital recorder, security and fire alarm systems were installed in the archive building.
Another request was from Jabalia El-Nazlah Municipality for the illumination of roads and streets. The necessary road lighting materials were donated, and vehicle and pedestrian traffic became safer as a result.
In terms of food aid and winter season assistance for people living in the besieged Gaza, TIKA continues its efforts to implement Turkey's developmental cooperation policies.
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