İSTANBUL (TURKISH JOURNAL) – By Janet Ekstract – Turkey and its leader President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are making headlines in the wake of the Turkish president’s condemnation of Israel and the Israeli army’s actions on the Gaza Strip – where earlier this week, devastating violence left more than 3,000 seriously injured and close to 100 dead. Erdogan has called out the United Nations for what he deems is a “collapse” of its duties and a failure to rally to swiftly condemn what has been termed as ‘excessive force’ used on protesters in Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Erdogan’s condemnation comes at a very fragile time amidst today’s extraordinary summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states who were summoned by the Turkish president for an emergency meeting in Istanbul today. The purpose of the summit is to show solidarity with the Palestinian people Erdogan emphasized and to denounce the recent relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Representatives from more than 40 nations – including presidents, prime ministers, high level dignitaries and other high level officials took part.
Some of the more prominent attendees included King Abdullah II of Jordan, Iranian President Rouhani and the Afghan President Ashraf Gani. A total of 15 OIC member state foreign ministers attended today’s summit. Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and President Erdogan have been conducting emergency phone diplomacy in the last several days.
A total of 15 OIC member state foreign ministers attended today’s summit and Cavusoglu who spoke to the Council of Foreign Ministers Meeting prior to the OIC Extraordinary Summit – called the tragic incidents “shameful” and “the final straw.” The Turkish foreign minister added: “We must ensure that the Israeli authorities and Israeli soldiers who point guns at defenseless people are held accountable.”
Additional condemnation was echoed by OIC Secretary-General Yousef al-Othaimeen who said in his opening speech that what Israel has done along the Gaza fence is “a war crime and a crime against humanity.” Al-Othaimeen endorsed the call by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for an international investigation into the most recent events in Gaza.
To coincide with the OIC Summit, Istanbul hosted a massive public rally as a show of solidarity with Palestine in the Yenikapi district with the theme of the rally “Damn with cruelty, support for Jerusalem.” OIC leaders, Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim were among the attendees at the rally.
U.S. and British lawmakers have also condemned what they have labeled as “horrific” – referring to the use of unabated and what many claim is unnecessary forced used against innocent civilians, who the lawmakers say have the right to protest without fearing for their lives. U.S. Democratic House Member John Yarmuth was quoted on Facebook: “I am deeply saddened by the horrific slaughter of at least 52 Palestinian protesters and injuries to thousands more by Israeli forces.”
Yarmuth added: “No doubt this will spark claims that Israel has the right to defend itself – and it does. But this has nothing to do with defense,” Yarmuth added. “We are witnessing the use of unabated brutality and force against civilians to stifle civil unrest. America must respect and demand more from its close allies.”.