Turkey's prime minister says a wave of demonstrations at home have delayed preparations for his planned visit to Gaza.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday, however, that he intends to press ahead with the visit and could "make a surprise any time."

Erdogan has long said he wants to visit Gaza, despite concerns by the United States that the visit could strengthen the militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza, and harm Palestinian reconciliation efforts. Washington also fears that the visit could undo a truce it brokered between Israel and Turkey earlier this year.

Erdogan said: "Gaza is ready. We could not be ready because of the (protests)."

Turkey was hit by weeks of anti-government demonstrations triggered by a heavy-handed police clampdown on peaceful demonstrators.