Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan drew praise Friday from Hamas for confronting President Shimon Peres
over civilian casualties in Gaza. The Turkish leader also said that "everybody should take sides," despite Turkish efforts to mediate in the Middle East.
"We consider this a daring and responsible position that expresses the pulse and outlook of the Islamic nation and confirms the rights of the Palestinian people," Hamas legislator Mushir al-Masri Mashir said of Erdogan's confrontation with Peres. "It is a position more advanced than those of the Arab and Islamic regimes."
"No one should portray the killing of those children or women as a simple job accident," Erdogan said at the inauguration of a subway station in Istanbul on Friday. "Being silent in the face of oppression is oppression itself."
Red and white Turkish flags flapped next to green Hamas banners at rallies throughout Gaza City on Friday, as well as the ruins of a bombed-out mosque in the Gaza refugee camp of Jebaliya. Later, about 5,000 Hamas supporters rallied in front of the ruined Palestinian parliament, some waving Turkish flags and carrying pictures of Erdogan.
The dispute about Israel's offensive took place at a panel discussion there on Thursday. It ended when Erdogan told Peres: "You kill people," and then stalked off the stage.
Peres said Friday his heated public exchange with Erdogan was not personal and ties between the two nations won't change. He said he spoke afterward with Erdogan.