The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoganhas blamed Western countries for the Israeli bombings in the Gaza Strip, which have caused more than 7.700 muertos according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. “The West is responsible for the massacres in Gaza. Israel is just a pawn that could be sacrificed at any moment. Israel cannot survive three days without the support of the West,” the president declared this Saturday in a speech in Istanbul.
His party, the Islamist AKP, and other nationalist and ultra-conservative political groups organized a massive pro-Palestinian meeting to call for an end to the bombing and support the people of Gaza. Tens of thousands of people gathered on an esplanade in Istanbul with Turkish and Palestinian flags and chanted proclamations of “murderous Israel” and called for Turkey’s intervention in the conflict shouting “Turkish army to Gaza.” This is the largest demonstration that has occurred in Turkey since last October 7, although there have been massive protests in front of the Israeli embassy and consulates from both Islamist organizations and left-wing parties, calling for an end to the bombings.
The Turkish president intervened in today’s event after a Muslim prayer for Palestine and focused his speech on attacking the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahuwhom he called “terrorist“and the international community, for having achieved a ceasefire in these three weeks of war. “Israel has been openly committing war crimes for exactly 22 days, but Western leaders have not even called for a ceasefire against Israel and much fewer have reacted to it. We will present Israel as a war criminal to the world,” he declared.
The Turkish president made his speech in front of a giant image of the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the third holiest place in Islam and a major source of tension between Israelis and Palestinians. The Israeli Foreign Ministry withdrew its diplomatic staff and ambassador in Turkey this Saturday after Erdogan’s speech.
In his speech, Erdogan hinted at Ankara’s possible intention to intervene in the war between Israel and Hamas, although he did not declare it directly. The president alluded to other conflicts in which Türkiye has provided military support to one of the parties, such as Libya or Nagorno Karabakh. “The people of Gaza are ready to protect their homeland. Are we ready too? We did it yesterday and, God willing, we will do it again tomorrow. We must be prepared,” he warned. And he later declared: “Hey West, I am calling you. Do you want to start a confrontation again like in the Crusades? Turkey is not dead, it is standing. You must know that we exist in the Middle East as we exist in Libya and Karabakh,” he added.