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May 20, 2014 10:48 am

Turkey’s Erdogan Thanks Israel for Canceling Independence Day Party to Respect Mining Deaths

avatar by Joshua Levitt

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: World Economic Forum.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday thanked Israel for cancelling a planned celebration last week as a gesture to the hundreds who died recently in an accident in a Turkish mine, Turkey’s Hurriyet reported.

In a speech to party members about the Soma, Manisa, coal mining disaster, which cost 301 Turkish lives, Erdogan thanked Israel and Norway for cancelling planned celebrations that had been scheduled for last week.

The thanks to the Jewish state came after Erdogan faced criticism last week for using an anti-Israel slur as he toured the accident locale, where he called a Turkish protester an “Israeli sperm.”

Turkey declared three days of national mourning in honor of those who died in the explosion, one of Turkey’s worst industrial disasters.

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Last Wednesday, the Embassy of the State of Israel in Ankara, said it had cancelled the celebration planned for Israel’s Independence Day in solidarity with the families of those lost in the explosion.

“Due to the grave accident in the coal mine in , the reception on the occasion of the 66th Independence Day of the State of Israel planned to be held tonight (14 May 2014) has been cancelled,” the Embassy said in a statement posted to Facebook.

“The State and people of Israel share the grief of the Turkish people, pay condolences to the families of the deceased, wish speedy recovery for the wounded and hope for positive news from the ones still in the mine,” Nizar Amer, Spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in Turkey said.

Israel President Shimon Peres also sent a letter of condolence to Turkish President Abdullah Gul, writing, “I wish to extend my deepest condolences, and those of the people of Israel, to your country on the tragic accident in Manisa. We are all shocked at the loss of life of innocent people at work and our thoughts are with the people of Turkey.”

“At times of tragedy we must all do what we can to help one another and we have offered Turkey whatever assistance you require at this time,” Peres said. “From the Holy Land the people of Israel pray for the victims, their families, for the rescue of those still trapped and the full recovery of the injured.”

“Please accept my heartfelt sympathy and those of the people of Israel,” Peres wrote.

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