Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Oct. 20 called on Israel to stop its attacks on Gaza, which he said amounted to genocide, and urged governments worldwide to work for a humanitarian ceasefire in the region.
Turkey supports Palestinians, backs a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict, and hosts members of the Palestinian militant group Hamas. It has offered to mediate in the conflict and has sent humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip that is stuck in Egypt because borders are closed.
While initially condemning civilian deaths and calling for restraint as it sought to repair ties with Israel after years of animosity, Ankara has toughened its stance against Israel as the fighting and humanitarian crisis in Gaza has intensified.
"I repeat my call for the Israeli leadership to never expand the scope of its attacks on civilians and to immediately end its operations amounting to genocide," Erdoğan said on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Gazze’ye yönelik saldırıların genişlemesi daha fazla acı, ölüm ve gözyaşından başka hiçbir şey getirmeyecektir.— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) October 20, 2023
Çocukları, kadınları, sivilleri katlederek; hastaneleri, okulları, camileri, kiliseleri bombalayarak güvenliğin sağlanamayacağı açıktır. Zulümle âbâd olunmaz.…
He added Israel was provoking non-regional actors instead of turning back from its mistakes in Gaza, and said that the region needed saving from the "frenzy of madness" supported by Western powers and media. Erdoğan also said Ankara was working to end the fighting before it reached "a point of no return".
"It is clear that security cannot be achieved by massacring children, women, civilians; by bombing hospitals, schools, mosques, and churches," Erdoğan said. "Cruelty does not bring prosperity."
Later on Oct. 20, Erdoğan spoke to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi by phone to discuss the conflict and "the human rights violations committed by Israel against civilians," the Turkish presidency said.
Erdoğan's office said he told Sisi that "the savagery toward Palestinian lands was deepening, and that the silence of Western countries over the bombing of hospitals, schools, and places of worship was worsening the fire in Gaza."
Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan on Oct. 20 criticized visit by U.S. President Joe Biden to Israel.
"Of course, Biden coming there under these circumstances and being in a position, in a way, of approving the destruction in Gaza, is being noted by history," Fidan said. "For many, this is not a surprise, but it creates a perception that may cause many different outcomes for America."
Turkish protesters staged anti-Israel demonstrations across the country this week after a blast that killed large numbers of Palestinians at a Gaza hospital.
Israeli diplomats, including its ambassador, have left Turkey after Israel issued a security warning.
Ankara has also been in talks with Hamas to secure the release of civilians the group has taken prisoner, but Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan was cited as saying on Oct. 18 that there "is nothing concrete" for now.