Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Israel’s siege and bombing of Gaza in response to an attack by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas was a “massacre,” but he reiterated Ankara’s offer to intervene.
Erdogan and his foreign minister met with regional and Western counterparts this week, offering to intervene between the parties. However, Israel’s envoy to Ankara said on Sunday that it was too early to talk about mediation.
Erdogan, speaking to his ruling AK Party in parliament, said even war has a “morality” but the flare-up since the weekend “very severely” violated that.
“Preventing people meeting their most fundamental needs and bombing housing where civilians live – in short, conducting a conflict using every sort of shameful method – is not a war, it’s a massacre,” he said, referring to Israel cutting off electricity and water to Gaza and destroying infrastructure.
Turkey, which has backed Palestinians in the past and hosted members of Hamas while supporting a two-state solution, has been working to mend ties with Israel after years of acrimony. Unlike the European Union and United States, Ankara does not view Hamas as a terrorist organisation.
While not openly blaming Israel, Turkey has said that the latest fighting is due to years of injustices against Palestinians and that the only path to peace is the formation of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state.
Erdogan on Wednesday criticised Israel’s “disproportionate” attacks on Gaza as “devoid of any ethical foundation,” and urged the world not to “blindly” take one side. Leaving the underlying issue unresolved would lead to new, more violent conflicts, he warned.
“We call on countries in the Americas, Europe and other regions to take up a position between the parties that is fair, just, and based on humanitarian balances,” he said. “Everyone should refrain from acts that will wholly punish the Palestinian people, like blocking humanitarian aid.”
Erdogan later on Wednesday held a call with Jordan’s King Abdullah to discuss developments, the Turkish presidency said, adding that Erdogan “stated the need to be vigilant against the possibility of conflicts spreading to the wider region.”
Separately on Wednesday, members of HUDAPAR, an Islamist political party allied with Erdogan’s Ak Party, met with senior Hamas official Bassem Naim and held a news conference in parliament alongside him.
HUDAPAR Secretary General Sahzade Demir said Naim had come to recount “the Zionist savagery” to politicians, adding that Israel had declared war on Islam and its values. He also slammed what he called the “passive stance” of Muslim countries against the violence as “an embarrassment” and urged Turkey’s parliament to condemn Israel at a special session on Thursday.
Temel Karamollaoglu, leader of Islamist opposition Felicity Party, met Naim and Hamas’ Turkey representative Musa Akkari as well, the party said.
Erdogan has also previously met Hamas members.
Demir also called for support for a rally, dubbed the “Friday Flood” in reference to Hamas’ “Aqsa Flood” offensive against Israel, to be held in Istanbul on Friday.