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Turkish President accuses Israel of 'genocide' after Palestinian deaths on Gaza border

President Recep Erdoğan recalls ambassadors from Israel and US

Emily Shugerman
New York
Monday 14 May 2018 21:18 BST
Palestinians run for cover from tear gas near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip
Palestinians run for cover from tear gas near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip (AFP/Getty)

Turkish President Recep Erdoğan has accused Israel of carrying out a "genocide" as more than 50 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in one day of protests.

The Turkish president accused Israel of being a "terrorist state" and announced he would pull ambassadors out of Israel and the US. The announcement came as the US moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, inflaming protests on the Israeli border in Gaza.

Israeli forces killed 58 Palestinians during protests near the border that day, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. At least 1,200 others were injured as the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) used air strikes, tank fire, and tear gas on the protesters.

“What Israel has done is a genocide," Mr Erdogan said in a speech broadcast on Turkish state television. "I condemn this humanitarian drama, the genocide, from whichever side it comes, Israel or America.”

He added: “We will continue to stand with Palestinian people with determination."

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag announced that the country would recall its ambassadors from Israel and the US, and declared three days of mourning for the Palestinians killed. South Africa also recalled its ambassadors from Israel in protest of the deaths.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also said he is concerned by the "high number of people killed" in Gaza

Palestinians have been protesting along the Israeli border fence for more than six weeks, demanding the right to return to land they say was taken from them during the 1948 formation of Israel.

Palestinian leadership decided on Monday to file a war crimes complaint against Israel with the International Criminal Court over its settlement construction in Israeli-occupied territories, according to the Associated Press.

The decision – reportedly made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and senior Palestinian Liberation Organisation officials – signals how far relations between the Israelis and Palestinians have deteriorated in recent weeks.

Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu hail US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital

The unrest came as US officials dedicated the new American embassy in Jerusalem – a move spurred by President Donald Trump's decision to recognise the holy city as the capital of Israel last year. Palestinians also claim Jerusalem as their capital, and protested the decision for days after it was announced.

Mr Erdogan criticised the move earlier on Monday, saying the US had chosen to be "part of the problem rather than the solution" and had "lost its mediating role in the peace process” as a result.

Israel and the US have blamed the violence in Gaza on Hamas, a Palestinian militant organisation that controls the area. Israel claimed some protesters opened fire and threw explosives at members of the IDF.

"The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas," White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said in a press briefing. "Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response."

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