Photo: AFP
Mass protests in Istanbul against the US Embassy opening
Photo: AFP

Erdoğan: Israel 'terror state, carrying out Gaza genocide'

As thousands protest in Istanbul against US Embassy move to Jerusalem, Turkey recalls its ambassadors to Israel, US; Erdoğan also announces 3 days of mourning; South Africa also pulls ambassador; UN Sect.-Gen. calls for 'utmost restraint,' says 'appalled with number of deaths.'

Turkey announced Monday evening it was recalling its ambassadors from the United States and Israel "for consultations," and has followed the Palestinian Authority's lead in announcing three days of mourning following the deaths of 59 protesters in Gaza Monday.



Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave a speech in London that same day, calling Israel a "terror state" and adding that "the assault on the Gaza protesters exposed Israel's ugly visage, as one who carries out genocide in Gaza."


In a later interview with Bloomberg Tuesday, Erdoğan said that were "two people responsible: US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu."


Turkish President Erdoğan called Israel a 'terror state' (Photo: AFP)
Turkish President Erdoğan called Israel a 'terror state' (Photo: AFP)


Following the day's incidents, Turkey also called for an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which Turkey currently chairs.


Ankara wants the meeting of the 57-member-state body to be held on Friday, government spokesman Bekir Bozdag said.


"I will speak to other leaders and call on them to raise their own voices against this injustice," Erdoğan added. "As leaders of the Islamic world, we will not allow to lose Jerusalem on this day. We shall continue standing with our Palestinian brothers."


Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also denounced Israel's actions on the strip's border, calling them a "cowardly massacre." Speaking to reporters at an Ankara airport, Yıldırım also denounced the inauguration of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, saying the US "flaunted international law."


More on the Turkish reaction, thousands protested in Istanbul Monday evening against the aforementioned American decision. Protesters burned Israeli and American flags. Another protest will take place Tuesday.


Protests against the US decision in Istanbul (Photo: EPA)
Protests against the US decision in Istanbul (Photo: EPA)


"Al Quds belongs to the Muslims," one of the signs hoisted at the rally said, as the assembled crowd chanted, "Jerusalem is ours, and will be ours."


One of the speakers addressing the crowd during the rally—organized by the same group behind the 2010 Gaza flotilla—called the Americans "dogs."


South Africa recalls ambassador

Similarly on the diplomatic front, South Africa announced earlier Monday that it was recalling Ambassador Sisa Ngombane from Israel to consultations in Pretoria after severely denouncing "violent and destructive incursions into Palestinian territories."


The African government issued a condemnation of "Israeli armed forces' violent aggression on the Gaza border. Victims took part in a peaceful protest against the provocative inauguration of the US Embassy in Jerusalem" before calling on Israel to "withdraw from Gaza."


 (Photo: EPA)
(Photo: EPA)


United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said he was "appalled by the escalation in the Palestinian territories and the number of people killed in wounded in the Gaza Strip protests."


Guterres further advised Israeli security forces to "act with the utmost restraint in using live fire."


Speaking about the Palestinian side of the issue, the secretary-general said Hamas and the protest's leaders "have a responsibility to prevent further acts of violence."


The international body's Security Council will convene Tuesday for an emergency session following the events in Gaza and the US Embassy's move to Jerusalem.


 (Photo: EPA)
(Photo: EPA)


Kuwait, which called for the meeting, disseminated a draft media statement among the Council's members and suggested it be published during the session.


The draft statement said, "The Security Council expresses its rage and pain in light of the killing of Palestinian civilians exercising their rights to peaceful protest. The Council calls on all countries to not take any further steps to exacerbate the situation and endanger chances for peace."


"The Council reaffirms that any decision or action to change the character, status or demographics of Jerusalem has no legal validity and are invalid." The US is expected to block the statement's publication Tuesday.


Israel's own envoy to the UN Danny Danon called on the Council's members Monday to denounce Hamas "for the war crimes it has perpetrated. It not only sends tens of thousands of people it has incited to break through the border and harm Israeli civilians, but also intentionally endangering Palestinian civilians."


 (Photo: EPA)
(Photo: EPA)


"The massacre of Israeli civilians or the deaths of Gazans—either would be welcomed by Hamas. Any civilian hurt on the border is a victim of Hamas's war crimes, every mortality is the result of the group's terroristic activities and under its exclusive responsibility," Danon concluded.


Erdoğan on embassy move: 'Will inflame tensions'

Turkish President Erdoğan also spoke about US President Donald Trump's decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.


"The US has chosen to be a part of the problem, not the solution, and has lost its role as mediator in the Middle-East peace process. We can't help but feelings as if we're back in the dark times preceding World War Two," Erdoğan opined.


Calling the embassy move "highly regrettable," Erdoğan warned it will "inflame tensions and stoke fires between the two peoples even more." The president also alleged it was a violation of international law and UN resolutions, concluding by calling it a "huge mistake."


An American defense official told NBC that the US sent reinforcements of dozens of US Marines to its diplomatic missions in Turkey, Jordan and Israel as a response to growing tensions.


The State Department and Pentagon were considering also sending Marines to other embassies in the region, including Lebanon, Egypt and Pakistan, the official added.


Jewish protesters in Washington (Photo: Reuters)
Jewish protesters in Washington (Photo: Reuters)


Demonstrations against Trump's decision also took place inside the US, with a prominent one taking place in Washington. Some one hundred protesters from the Jewish IfNotNow group protested outside the capital's Trump International Hotel.


Chanting "Stop the violence," protesters blocked Pennsylvania Avenue, which links the White House and the white-domed Capitol, for about two hours.


Protesters, many wearing skullcaps and black T-shirts stating that "the Jewish future demands Palestinian freedom," sang "We will build this world with love." They also carried mock building parts and directional signs for an "Embassy of Freedom" to replace what they called the "Embassy of Occupation" in Jerusalem.


Reuters contributed to this report.


פרסום ראשון: 05.15.18, 08:54
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