Humanity should take “swift” action to resist Israel’s “aggression”, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said as Ankara reported that Turkish news agency journalists and UN-backed schools were hit by Israeli strikes in Gaza.
“This terrorist state that tries to plunder a city like Jerusalem, which houses places that are holy for Muslims, Christians and Jews, has crossed all limits,” Erdogan said on Friday, referring to Israel.
“It is imperative that UN Security Council takes steps to ensure peace in Jerusalem in line with decisions of the General Assembly,” the president said, speaking to the members of his Justice and Development (AK) Party during a video conference. Turkey is ready to actively support any initiative announced by the UN, he said, adding that his nation “will not be silent” even if the rest of the world ignores the developments in Gaza.
His words came amid an ongoing violent standoff between Tel Aviv and the Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip that saw the Israel Defense Forces launching massive airstrikes against Gaza in response to the Hamas militant group’s rocket attacks. The Israeli strikes claimed the lives of more than 100 Palestinians, including 27 children, according to local health officials.
Hamas militants’ rocket launches were mostly intercepted by the Israeli air defenses, resulting in the deaths of nine people, including a child.“It is a duty for all of humanity to resist [Israel’s] aggression against Palestinian cities and Jerusalem,” Erdogan said, adding that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) should particularly take a “concrete” stance on the issue. Otherwise, the organization would simply discredit its own existence, he added.
The OIC announced earlier that it would hold an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss the situation. The violent conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militants was sparked by an Israeli court case regarding the eviction of several Palestinian families from a neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
The move first sparked massive protests that saw clashes between the demonstrators and police in several Israeli cities as well as in Jerusalem. The tensions then led to a rocket attack by Hamas and a military response by the IDF.
“If we do not immediately stop Israel’s aggression in Palestine and… in Jerusalem, tomorrow, everyone would be a target of this brutal mentality,” the Turkish president warned. Erdogan also gave a scathing rebuke to the officials who supported Israel’s actions in Gaza.
Those who chose to remain silent or backed Israel “for political and ideological reasons should know that their turn will come one day” as well, he said.
Earlier, leaders of several Western nations including Austria and Germany expressed their support for Israel’s right of “self-defense.” Leaders of France and the UK also earned praise from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for supporting Tel Aviv.
Meanwhile Erdogan said that he discussed the Israeli airstrikes in Gaza with the leaders of some 20 nations, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Earlier this week, Moscow called on Tel Aviv to immediately stop the violence and halt the settlement of the Palestinian territories. So far, however, Netanyahu said that the violent standoff between Israel and the Palestinian militant groups is “not over” and vowed to “reach” Hamas militants “everywhere.”
The Israeli airstrikes in Gaza left a cameraman and a photojournalist of the Turkish Anadolu Agency injured, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Friday, adding that the strikes also resulted in “damage to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) schools” as well as a “rapid increase” in civilian casualties.
“We call on the international community to intervene swiftly for Israel to stop these attacks, which will cause further loss of civilian lives,” the ministry said.