ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday compared Israel’s actions against the Palestinians in Gaza to the Nazi persecution of Jews in World War II.
“There is no difference between the atrocity faced by the Jewish people in Europe 75 years ago and the brutality that our Gaza brothers are subjected to,” he told a summit of Muslim leaders in Istanbul.
Mr Erdogan called the extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul after Israeli forces on Monday killed some 60 Palestinians on the Gaza border.
He added that the leadership of a people “who were subjected to all kinds of torture in the concentration camps during World War II is attacking the Palestinians with methods similar to the Nazis”.
“I will say openly and clearly that what Israel is doing is banditry, brutality and state terror,” he added.
“We will emphasise the status of the Palestine issue for our community, and that we will not allow the status of the historic city to be changed,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an opening address. “We must prevent other countries following the US example.”
While addressing thousands of supporters waving Turkish and Palestinian flags in Istanbul’s Yenikapi neighbourhood earlier in the day, Mr Erdogan called on the Muslim world to back Palestinians against what he said was Israel’s cruelty in Gaza, and castigated both the United States and the United Nations over the deaths of dozens of protesters.
Mr Erdogan called for Muslim solidarity and said the United Nations had lost legitimacy for failing to stand up against Washington.
“If the Muslim world stands against cruelty in Gaza together, Israel’s recklessness will not last,” he said.
“The United Nations, which has failed to take effective steps against the United States, has taken another blow to its already worn-out legitimacy.”
Mr Erdogan has recently described the actions of the Israeli forces as “genocide” and called Israel a “terrorist state”.
The events in Gaza have also sparked a diplomatic row between Turkey and Israel, with both countries expelling each other’s senior diplomats this week.
The plight of Palestinians resonates with many Turks, particularly the nationalist and religious voters who form the base of support for Mr Erdogan, running for re-election next month.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi arrived here on Friday.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Khurram Dastgir Khan and senior officials accompanied the prime minister.
Pakistan has called for an independent and transparent investigation of violence in Gaza.
Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2018