Turkish protesters clashed with police overnight in angry demonstrations following a blast that killed large numbers of Palestinians at a Gaza hospital, and further rallies were expected on Wednesday.
Palestinian officials said the blast at Al-Ahli al-Arabi hospital was caused by an Israeli air strike. Israel blamed the blast on a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, which denied responsibility.
President Tayyip Erdogan called the blast “the latest example of Israeli attacks devoid of the most basic human values”.
Turkey’s presidential communications office quickly branded Israel’s claim “#FakeNews” on social media platform X.
Overnight Turks marched with Palestinian flags and chanted slogans denouncing Israel in at least a dozen Turkish cities, including outside the Israeli embassy in the capital Ankara.
Police used pepper spray and water cannon to disperse thousands of protesters who tried to enter the compound of Israel’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city. Five people were detained, the Istanbul governor’s office said.
Israel’s National Security Council (NSC) issued a warning against travel to Turkey, citing fears that Israelis would be targeted by those angry at the war. It also urged Israeli citizens in Turkey to leave as soon as possible.
Following the NSC’s appeal, Israeli airlines said they were arranging flights from Istanbul on Wednesday for Israelis who want to leave Turkey.
On Wednesday, there was a large security presence around the consulate, with hundreds of police officers and around 10 water cannon vehicles deployed behind a line of metal barriers. Police conducted identity checks on those seeking to pass through.
Political analysts said the Gaza hospital blast could have dire consequences for ties between Israel and Turkey.
“Ankara is now likely to assume a much harder anti-Israel stance…,” said Wolfango Piccoli at Teneo.
“Erdogan may even decide to abandon the rapprochement with Israel, which was initiated in 2022 after more than ten years of fraught ties between the two countries… A deterioration in relations between Turkey and Israel would also likely impact Turkey-US ties, creating further stress between the two NATO allies at a volatile time.”