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Turkish Group Calls for Israeli Minister's Prosecution

A Turkish human rights group has asked a prosecutor to start legal proceedings against Israel's defense minister for alleged crimes committed against Palestinians during Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip.

The Istanbul-based Mazlum-Der filed the petition on Friday, just two days before Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is to visit Turkey in a bid to mend ties.

Turkey has been an important ally of Israel, but relations have been strained since the Gaza conflict year ago, which drew criticism from Turkish leaders.

Turkey's judiciary has thrown out similar complaints against Israeli officials in the past.

Israel launched the offensive in Gaza in December of 2008 to stop Palestinian militant rocket attacks on Israeli towns. The conflict killed more than 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.