Turkey’s Erdogan addresses pro-Palestinian gathering, calling Israel ‘an occupying force’


At an enormous pro-Palestinian rally held in Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan boldly expressed that Israel is an occupier in its Gaza war. He reiterated that Hamas should not be labeled as a terrorist organization. “Israel was greatly offended by this… Erdogan speaks his mind because Turkey is not indebted to you,” he affirmed to hundreds of thousands of supporters on Saturday.

Individuals gathered at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport to participate in a rally organized by Turkey’s governing AK Party, denouncing Israel’s ongoing bombardment of the Gaza Strip and appealing for a ceasefire. The demonstrators energetically chanted pro-Palestinian slogans and proudly waved both Turkish and Palestinian flags. The event, known as the “Great Palestine Meeting,” took place on Saturday, coinciding with Israel’s progression of its “expanded” ground operation amidst a blackout of communication within the Gaza Strip.

Prominent figures from other political parties, as well as noteworthy personalities from the media and sports industry, attended the rally. Some were scheduled to deliver speeches during the event, according to local media reports.

Addressing the crowd, Erdogan pointed blame at Western powers, emphasizing that they are the primary culprits behind the Israeli army’s devastating treatment of Palestinians in Gaza.

Al Jazeera’s Osama Bin Javaid, reporting from the rally, described Erdogan’s speech as “one of the President’s most powerful addresses to date.”

Protesters were observed wearing headbands bearing messages such as “We are all Palestinians,” “End the genocide,” and “Be the voice of Palestinian children.”

Since Friday evening, the 2.3 million residents of Gaza have suffered from a significant breakdown in communication among themselves and with the outside world due to the ongoing battle between Israeli ground troops and Hamas fighters within the besieged enclave.

According to Palestinian health authorities, the Israeli bombardment since October 7 has claimed the lives of at least 7,703 Palestinians, including approximately 3,000 children. On the other hand, Hamas attacks on Israel have resulted in the deaths of over 1,400 people.

Simultaneously, thousands of protesters flocked to the streets of London, urging the British government to demand a ceasefire. Similar rallies were taking place in other parts of the UK, including Manchester and Glasgow. Aerial footage revealed large crowds embarking on a march organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which would conclude outside the Houses of Parliament after passing by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Downing Street office.

Echoing Washington’s position, the Sunak administration has refrained from explicitly calling for a ceasefire and has instead advocated for humanitarian pauses to facilitate aid delivery to the people of Gaza.

In Berlin, police once again dispersed multiple pro-Palestinian demonstrations on Friday evening. Over 100 individuals were arrested near the Brandenburg Gate as a crowd chanted in support of Palestine and subsequently directed anti-police slogans during an unauthorized rally. Some participants engaged in violent clashes with the police, resulting in injuries to two officers.

Furthermore, another pro-Palestinian demonstration, involving approximately 100 people, was also dispersed on Friday evening at Alexanderplatz in central Berlin. Authorities reported that any potential protesters were dealt with aggressively and consistently expelled from the square.

In recent weeks, Berlin has implemented a ban on the majority of pro-Palestinian rallies and demonstrations following the attack by Hamas on October 7.