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28 Oct, 2023 15:32

Erdogan accuses Israel of ‘war crimes’

As West Jerusalem expands its operation in Gaza, the Turkish president has hardened his rhetoric against the Jewish state
Erdogan accuses Israel of ‘war crimes’

Türkiye will present evidence of Israeli war crimes in Gaza to the world, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a rally on Saturday. While Erdogan initially positioned himself as a potential mediator between the Israelis and Palestinians, he has since sided with the “freedom fighters” in Hamas.

Israel’s operation in Gaza is “not defense, but an open, vicious massacre,” Erdogan told thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Istanbul. 

“Israel has been openly committing war crimes for exactly 22 days, but Western leaders have not even called for a ceasefire,” he declared, adding that Türkiye is gathering information to “present Israel to the world as a war criminal.”

More than 7,000 Palestinians, including nearly 3,000 children, have been killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza since the current conflict began, according to the latest figures from the Gaza Health Ministry. Israeli forces dramatically ramped up their bombardment of the strip on Friday night, before sending troops and tanks into the strip.

The Israeli air campaign began immediately after Hamas fighters raided Israeli towns and villages near the Gaza border on October 7, killing around 1,400 people and capturing around 250 hostages. 

Within days of the attack, Erdogan announced that he was “ready for all kinds of mediation, including prisoner exchange, if the parties request it.” Erdogan called on both sides to show restraint, but in the weeks that followed, his focus shifted almost exclusively to Israel.

The Turkish president declared that Israel’s siege of Gaza – which prevented food, water, medicine, and electricity from reaching the enclave – was “against the laws of war,” and accused Israel last week of committing “genocide” against the Palestinians. 

In a speech to lawmakers on Wednesday, he said that “Hamas is not a terrorist organization, it is a group of freedom fighters, ‘mujahideen’ [holy warriors] waging a battle to protect its lands and people.” Erdogan also said that he had canceled plans to visit Israel over the bombardment of Gaza.

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