ISTANBUL: Turkey on Monday called Israel an “apartheid state” that must end “heinous and cruel attacks” against Palestinians, as clashes raged at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa mosque compound.“To the Islamic world, we say: It’s time to stop Israel’s heinous and cruel attacks!” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s press aide Fahrettin Altun wrote on Twitter.

“To humanity, we say: It’s time to put this apartheid state in its place!” Erdogan himself had on Saturday called Israel a “cruel terrorist state” that was attacking Palestinians “in a savage manner devoid of ethics”.

Relations between Israel and Turkey have been strained since a Turkish NGO oversaw a flotilla of ships that tried to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2010.

Hundreds of people demonstrated in support of Palestinians on Sunday evening outside Israel’s consulate in Istanbul.

The Turkish police did not intervene despite a ban on large public gatherings in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A range of top Turkish officials took to Twitter on Monday to denounce Israel’s actions.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said those “who do not speak out against this atrocity should not talk about (the) Middle East Peace Process”.

The four members of the Middle East Quartet involved in the stalled process — the US, Russia, the EU and the UN — on Saturday expressed “deep concern” over the violence and called on “Israeli authorities to exercise restraint”.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2021

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