Erdogan calls on Turks to protest for Palestine, says Israel must end Gaza strikes
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday called on Turks to take part in a "Great Palestine Rally" due to be held at Istanbul's currently disused Ataturk Airport.
He called on Israel to "immediately stop this madness" and end its indiscriminate attacks on Gaza after Israeli forces intensified strikes on the Palestinian territory.
"The Israeli bombardments on Gaza intensified last night and once again targeted women, children and innocent civilians and worsened the ongoing humanitarian crisis," Erdogan said on X, formerly Twitter.
"Israel must immediately stop this madness and end its attacks."
Yarın milletimizin her bir ferdini, İstanbul Atatürk Havalimanı’nda gerçekleştireceğimiz, Filistinli kardeşlerimizle dayanışmamızı tüm dünyaya bir kez daha göstereceğimiz #BüyükFilistinMitingi’ne davet ediyorum. 🇹🇷🇵🇸 pic.twitter.com/0dq3qXXM1C— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) October 27, 2023
Erdogan encouraged heavy turnout for the rally in support of Palestinians in Istanbul on Saturday, organised by his AKP party, which could see around one million people attend.
The Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah also reported that Erdogan had encouraged leaders of several Arab countries to participate in the rally.
"We will declare loud and clear that we stand alongside the Palestinian people against Israel's persecution," he said.
Israel has cut off all communication to Gaza, in a move which rights groups have said could provide cover to further atrocities against Palestinians.
At least 7,703 people have been killed in Gaza, including 3,195 children according to figures released by the health ministry in Gaza on Saturday.
Israel has been indiscriminately bombing the Gaza Strip since October 7, when Hamas fighters crossed the border and killed 1,400 people and took 229 hostages, according to Israel.
During two decades in power, Erdogan has repeatedly taken a stand in favour of the Palestinians, but last year he also moved to restore diplomatic relations with Israel, meeting in September with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time.
But on Wednesday he cancelled plans to visit Israel citing its "inhumane" war against Gaza.