Turkey condemns Al-Aqsa attacks, says Israel must be held accountable

Turkey on Monday condemned the ongoing attack by Israeli forces on Palestinians in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, calling for a halt on the force used against civilians.

“We condemn the continuation of the operations by the Israeli security forces with firing stun grenades and using force against Palestinian civilians worshipping at al-Aqsa Mosque and the violation of the sanctity of Haram Al-Sharif, despite all the calls of the international community,’’the ministry said in a statment.

“We expect these attacks to be halted as soon as possible,’’ it added.

Nine Palestinians were killed in Israeli air strikes in the Palestinian territory after barrages against Israel, the Gaza health ministry said on Monday.

Reports of the deaths arrive hours after hundreds of Palestinians were wounded after Israeli police entered Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, in fourth day of violence in Jerusalem.

Turkey and Israel have had tense relations since the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause, is a vocal critic of Israeli policies.

The Turkish foreign ministry on Monday urged Israel to “take the necessary measures in order to stop the attacks of racist Jewish groups and the security forces on al-Aqsa Mosque, and to prevent the racist groups from entering’’ the holy site.

The latest bout of violence, Jerusalem’s worst since 2017, was sparked by a long-running bid by Jewish settlers to evict several Palestinian families from their nearby east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

The minisry called on “the importance of the international protection of Palestinian civilians within the framework of the decisions of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the UN General Assembly.’’

The only way to prevent such incidents from occurring in the occupied territories, it said, was to hold Israel responsible.

Monday’s violence coincides with Jerusalem Day, a celebration of Israel's capture of east Jerusalem, home to the Old City and its sensitive holy sites, in the 1967 Mideast war. 

Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın on Monday shared a may of the area, showing the expanding Israeli land since 1967.

Kalın urged Israel to stop attacking Palestinians in Jerusalem and prevent "the settlers from entering the holy mosque."

Israel bears the sole responsibility for any violence, Kalın said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of protestors gathered for a demonstration in support of Palestinians in Turkey’s central Konya province on Monday, defying a nationwide lockdown during the pandemic.

The Konya Governor’s Office has said it did not grant permission for the protest, organised by the Konya Civil Society Organistions Platform, Duvar news site said.