Israel on Saturday said it is recalling its diplomats from Turkey after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke out against Israel during a pro-Palestinian rally.
In Istanbul, Erdogan led calls for a cease-fire in front of hundreds of thousands of supporters protesting Israel’s moves in the war on northern Gaza, calling the country an “occupier” in a fiery speech.
“Israel has been openly committing war crimes for 22 days, but the Western leaders cannot even call on Israel for a cease-fire, let alone react to it,” Erdogan told the crowd, who waved Palestinian flags, according to the Associated Press (AP).
“We will tell the whole world that Israel is a war criminal,” he added. “We are making preparations for this. We will declare Israel a war criminal.”
Turkey does not consider Hamas a terrorist organization and has offered to be a negotiator between the group and Israel in order to release hostages.
Israel responded Saturday by saying it would reassess its diplomatic relations with Turkey and withdraw its diplomats from the country.
“Given the grave statements coming from Turkey, I have ordered the return of diplomatic representatives there in order to conduct a reevaluation of the relations between Israel and Turkey,” Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
The Turkish pro-Palestinian protests were among several recent protests around the world as Israel escalated its ground invasion of Gaza and extensive aerial strike campaign on Saturday.
In London, demonstrators shut down the streets surrounding Westminster Abbey and parliament as marchers chanted in favor of a cease-fire in the conflict. Elsewhere, people took to the streets of Copenhagen, Rome and Stockholm. Protests also erupted in Baghdad and in the West Bank city of Hebron.
In the U.S., over 200 people were arrested inside Grand Central Station in New York City on Friday evening after the train station had to be shut down during evening rush hour.
The protest action represents the loudest calls yet from the global public for a cease-fire in the war, which has raged on for over three weeks and continues to escalate.
The conflict began early this month after Hamas militants killed over 1,400 Israelis, mostly civilians, in a surprise attack. The militant group, considered a terrorist organization in the U.S. and European Union, also took over 200 people hostage.
Israeli air strikes in Gaza have since killed more than 7,300 Palestinians, including over 3,000 children, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.
The United Nations has led calls for a humanitarian ceasefire to assist civilians in Gaza, as the Israeli military levels entire neighborhoods, displacing over a million people.
Humanitarian aid has begun to flow into Gaza slowly, but aid leaders worry that dwindling fuel supplies and an escalating conflict will soon make further assistance impossible.
The Israeli military also cut off all internet and phone communication Friday, complicating civilian rescue efforts and aid convoys.
Source : The Hill