Israeli minister suggests offshore seaport for Gaza

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Israel's transportation minister says he is pushing for the construction of an "artificial island" off the coast of Hamas-ruled Gaza to alleviate hardship in the blockaded coastal strip.

Yisrael Katz says Monday his plan calls for an eight square kilometer (three square mile) island linked to Gaza by a five kilometer (three-mile) bridge. He says the island, estimated to cost $5 billion, would include a port and perhaps a future airport. Israel would supervise security checks but it would otherwise be run by Palestinians and the international community.

With Israel and Egypt maintaining a naval blockade of Gaza, the Palestinians have long been pleading for a port to connect them to the rest of the world.

Katz says Israel has no objection as long as its security needs are met.