Turkiye to Declare Israel 'War Criminal' to World Over Gaza - Erdogan
As Israel intensified its pummeling of the Gaza Strip amid the “second stage” of its war against Hamas in the enclave, ratcheting up the civilian death toll, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended a huge rally held by his country’s governing Justice and Development Party at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul in solidarity with the Palestinians.
Turkiye will label Israel a “war criminal
” for its actions in Gaza
, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
said at a huge rally on Saturday.
"Israel, we will also declare you as a war criminal to the world, we are preparing for it, and we will introduce Israel to the world as a war criminal," media reports cited Erdogan as telling thousands attending the rally in support of the Palestinians held in Istanbul.
The Turkish leader underscored that the Western world’s politicians and their media were legitimizing the “massacre of the innocent people
” in Gaza
, reiterating that "Israel is committing war crimes
." Erdogan also applauded "the determination of the people of Gaza
" not to leave their city in the face of bombardments. The politician slammed the relentless Israeli strikes on the enclave, and the fact that "Israel does not care
" that they have have resulted in an escalating civilian death toll.
The Gaza Health Ministry has reported that more than 8,000 have died as a result of the escalation in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the Gaza Strip. The Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF, or Doctors Without Borders) humanitarian organization issued a statement deploring the weak and slow actions of world leaders to stop the violence in the enclave.
Weighing in on the statements coming from Israel and its allies in the West
about its need to “defend itself” in the wake of Hamas' surprise attack on October 7, Recep Tayyip Erdogan emphasized:
“Of course, every country has the right to defend itself, but where is justice? There is no defense but an open, and vicious massacre going on in Gaza.”
After breaching the border in its attack on October 7, Hamas killed and abducted people in neighboring Israeli communities. In response, Israel launched retaliatory strikes and ordered a complete blockade of the Gaza Strip, home to more than two million people, cutting off supplies of food, water, and fuel. The escalation of the conflict has resulted in the deaths of around 1,400 Israelis and an estimated 8,000 Palestinians.
Erdogan further denounced Israel as an “occupier,” adding: “The West owes you, but Turkiye does not owe you… I am asking the West, do you want to create another Crusader war atmosphere? The main culprit behind the massacre unfolding in Gaza is the West.”
According to the Turkish leader, it was evident that Israel was being used as "a pawn" in the region, which could be "sacrificed" later. Referencing the resolution overwhelmingly passed in the UN General Assembly on October 27 calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, Erdogan said: "Israel, you are doomed to be left alone."
The non-binding resolution called for the release of all civilians, the protection of civilians, and ensuring safe passage of humanitarian aid into the enclave. However, both Israel and the United States rejected calls for a ceasefire contained in the initiative put forward by Jordan, Turkiye, and a swathe of Arab countries. Across the globe, protesters have been voicing support for Palestinians in Gaza, while also warning of the risk of the Palestine-Israel conflagration mushrooming into a wider Middle East conflict.
"I reiterate the call I made to the Israeli government in recent days. Heed our call to deliver aid to the oppressed and to open the doors of dialogue to establish peace. Come today and take a positive step, perhaps for the first time in your life, for your own and your children's future," Erdogan stated at Saturday's rally in istanbul.
In response to Erdogan's strongly-worded speech, Israel on Saturday announced that it was pulling its diplomats out of Turkiye.
“In light of the escalating rhetoric from Turkey, I have instructed the return of diplomatic representatives from Turkey in order to reassess Israel-Turkey relations,” Foreign Minister Eli Cohen wrote in a statement he also posted on X (formerly Twitter).
The increased intensity of Israeli strikes on Gaza over the weekend came amid the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launching the “second stage”
of its war against Hamas
militants in Gaza, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized in a televised address on Saturday night.
“Last night, additional ground forces entered Gaza, marking the beginning of the second stage of the war, whose goal is to destroy the military and political capabilities of Hamas and to bring our kidnapped citizens back,” Netanyahu stated.
Prior to that, reports highlighted that the IDF was “expanding ground operations” against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, with the air force intensifying bombardment of the Palestinian enclave. At the same time, media reports cited the Palestinian militant group as claiming it had thwarted an attempted ground assault by Israel’s military on Gaza.
Amid the latest developments in the Palestine-Israel conflict, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi also underscored Israel’s “crimes” in Gaza in a post on the X social media platform, saying they had “crossed the red lines, which may force everyone to take action.”
The UN Security Council is slated to convene on Monday afternoon to address the latest escalation of the Palestine-Israel conflict, after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) requested an emergency meeting in the wake of Israel’s “expanded ground operations” in Gaza.