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August 8, 2022 10:31 am

Turkey Blasts Israeli Military Action Against Islamists in Gaza

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party. Photo: Reuters/Murat Cetinmuhurdar

Turkey strongly condemned Israel’s military action against Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Gaza, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan leading the chorus.

Speaking on Sunday ahead of the announcement of a ceasefire in the fighting, Erdogan told a group of foreign ambassadors at his residence that he had taken “a clear stance against the attacks by Israeli security forces targeting Gaza and Gazan civilians.”

Describing the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem as “our red line,” the Turkish leader declared: “There is no excuse for killing children, babies in swaddling clothes. Turkey stands by the Palestinian people and their Gazan brothers.”

The IDF estimated Monday that about 51 people were killed in Gaza during the three-day round of hostilities, including 24 affiliated with the Islamic Jihad.

Of the 27 civilians killed, an IDF spokesperson said that 15 were killed by errant rockets fired by Palestinian militants that fell short within the enclave. The military has released footage of one particularly deadly explosion in the Jabaliya refugee camp that killed several civilians, including four children, which was caused by a failed PIJ rocket.

During previous upsurges of fighting between the IDF and Islamist groups in Gaza, Erdogan has frequently accused Israeli forces of deliberately killing Palestinian children. In 2019, during clashes on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Erodgan slammed then Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu as a “tyrant who massacred seven-year-old Palestinian children.” In May 2021, Erdogan earned a rebuke from the US State Department for his “reprehensible antisemitic comments” when he denounced Israeli as “murderers [who] kill six-year-old babies, murderers [who] make women crawl on the ground.”

In recent weeks, Israeli-Turkish relations have thawed against the background of a visit to Ankara by Israeli President Isaac Herzog. Following their discussions, Erdogan affirmed his desire to retain ties with Israel, arguing that “strong relations with Israel are key to defending Palestinian rights.”

Sunday’s statement was comparatively measured compared to Erdogan’s past outbursts, as he took care to underline Turkey’s backing for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Even harsher condemnation of Israel was expressed by the deputy chairman of Erdogan’s ruling Islamist AK Party, however.

“Israel has martyred innocent Palestinian children, women, civilians and many people, as they have done before, in front of the whole world. In fact, what they are doing under the name of a terrorist operation is the practice of a terrorist state,” Numan Kurtulmus stated over the weekend.

“The world should at least stop the consequences of these policies that aim to drive the Palestinians out of their homes and their ancestral lands, which is a state policy of Israel and does not recognize the Palestinians’ right to life,” Kurtulmus said.

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