Turkish protesters clashed with police overnight in angry demonstrations following a blast that killed hundreds of Palestinians at a Gaza hospital, and further rallies were expected on Wednesday.
Palestinian officials said the blast was caused by an Israeli air strike. Israel blamed the blast at Al-Ahli al-Arabi hospital on a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, which denied responsibility.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the blast “the latest example of Israeli attacks devoid of the most basic human values”.
Türkiye’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, Türkiye’s largest city. Five people were detained, the Istanbul governor’s office said.
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 Türkiye.
“Ankara is now likely to assume a much harder anti-Israel stance, especially as the Israel Defense Force’s incursion into Gaza is expected to intensify in the days ahead, with inevitable humanitarian costs,” 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 Türkiye and Israel would also likely impact Türkiye-US ties, creating further stress between the two NATO allies at a volatile time.”