By Esat Firat
The Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) caters to the needs of Palestinians through several projects.
From 2005-2008, TIKA completed 543 projects in the health, water, and archaeological sectors.
TIKA concluded 332 of these projects in occupied West Bank, 81 in occupied East Jerusalem, and 130 in Gaza which is under the Israeli blockade.
TIKA, which has recently built a 180-bed modern hospital for the people of Gaza, is currently working on a housing project that includes 320 apartments.
It also pays attention to the social infrastructure, supports NGOs and empowerment of women, and encourages sports activities.
Turkish style development model
Bulent Korkmaz, the Palestine coordinator of TIKA, said that the aid group, in the words of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was "the executive body of the Turkish development model".
"[TIKA] is different from other organizations which pursue 'neo-colonial' gains under the garb of humanitarian and development aid," he said.
"We operate with the spirit of research, while identifying problems and opportunities, and striving to create alternative ways. Our priority is not religious, ethnic or political groups, we focus on those who are needy.
"We look for sincere relations shaped by brotherhood and friendship," he added.
He said TIKA had brought hope to people who lived in areas rife with despair and pessimism.
Jerusalem and Palestine
Korkmaz said that the aid agency was directly involved in 58 different countries with 60 offices and had access to 170 countries.
"Undoubtedly, every country is special to us, but, Palestine and Jerusalem have a separate status.
"As a nation and state, our interest in this area is sometimes misinterpreted. We actually have a working procedure that is open, transparent and reviewable," he added.
He said they had conducted numerous projects in collaboration with groups affiliated with the UN and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
"We share our activities on social and traditional media. Furthermore, we would like to show our methods to the shareholders who want to meet us or learn more about the organization," he added.
Hospitals and health facilities
"Palestine-Turkey Friendship Hospital" was built in Gaza at a cost of about $62 million. It will start accepting patients in late 2018. The hospital is projected to be the largest hospital in Palestine and will have 180 beds.
Also, a hospital in Tubas city in West Bank, has been operational for the last five years. It is the most modern health facility in the country.
TIKA also provides medical equipment and training to staff, and ambulances.
Hundreds of Palestinians, who lost their homes in Israeli attacks, were given apartments in Gaza.
"Valley Gaza" was completed in 2017 by TIKA at a cost of $13 million.
Some 320 apartments were handed to Palestinian families. Today, 2,500 people reside in the housing block.
Thousands of Palestinians also study in schools built by the agency. So far, six schools have been built by TIKA in Palestine.
TIKA has also finished restoring nine schools and provided equipment support to 20 others.
The 400-bed female student dormitory project of Jerusalem University, which was launched in June 2018, will be completed in two years.
Olive oil production
Farming is one of the leading sources of income for Palestinians as the country owns fertile agricultural lands.
With a view to developing agriculture in Palestine, TIKA built the most modern olive oil facility in the country in Gaza.
The agency also provided various vehicles to the farmers. The vehicles included two four-wheel drives, 10 tractors, five cultivators, two excavators, two harvesters, and various size plows.
An egg poultry facility was established in a school in the Al-Khalil district of occupied West Bank.
Palestinian students have the chance to learn more about the field through the operative facility. The facility is going to contribute to the school budget thanks to the 2,500 poultries' daily egg production.
As Palestine shares a common historical heritage with Turkey, TIKA also restores artifacts dating back to Ottoman era.
TIKA restored the watch tower built by Sultan Abdulhamid II in Nablus and Dome of the Rock's gold-plated crescent in Masjid al-Aqsa complex.
In order to introduce Masjid al-Aqsa and Palestine to foreigners, TIKA also printed guidebooks in Turkish, Arabic and English.
TIKA covered the expenses of 2,500 books prepared by "House of Wisdom", which analyze Turkey-Palestine relations in the last decade, and 1,000 other books that review the 1915 Armenian incidents.
Nebi Musa Festival, which was first started by Salahaddin Ayyubi to show Muslim power in 1187 but then ended in 2014 due to the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, was revived through efforts by TIKA.
TIKA provided office equipment for the "Palestine's Turkey Graduates Association", which aims to improving ties between Palestinian students who graduated from universities in Turkey.
* Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this report from Ankara