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World in 'horror, concern' over Israeli attacks in Palestine: Turkish first lady

"As Israel unleashes an unprecedented barrage of bombs and bullets upon civilians in Palestine, our collective reaction is one of utter horror and concern," Turkish first lady Emine Erdoğan told Newsweek in an exclusive interview.

Agencies and A News MIDDLE EAST
Published November 21,2023

Turkish first lady Emine Erdoğan expressed grave concern Monday over Israel's attacks on Palestine, saying Ankara will continue to make efforts to provide all kinds of support to Palestinians.

"Today, as a result of Israel's attacks on the occupied Palestinian territories and particularly Gaza since Oct. 7, we are witnessing the heinous effects that a war can have on women and children.

"As Israel unleashes an unprecedented barrage of bombs and bullets upon civilians in Palestine, our collective reaction is one of utter horror and concern," Erdoğan told Newsweek in an exclusive interview.

Israel has caused tens of thousands of deaths and injuries by targeting schools, places of worship, facilities and even humanitarian corridors, Erdoğan said, adding it has also rendered 18 of the 35 hospitals in Gaza inoperable after its strikes and resource constraints, including the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital.

"Unfortunately, there is no safe haven in the region for the 1.5 million Gazans who were forcibly displaced. There are pregnant women, mothers with infants, and children with special needs among these people. Can you imagine how difficult it is for them to deal with the conditions of conflict and displacement?" she said.

Türkiye perceives no difference between Palestinian children and children from Ukraine, Europe, America, Türkiye or other nations, Erdoğan said, adding: "Every child has the right to a safe and comfortable home, as well as a good education and healthcare, regardless of where they are born."


Israel pursues a manner of collective punishment without discriminating between men and women, children and the elderly, Erdoğan said.

"What is happening in Gaza now cannot even be described as a war. With its cutting-edge weapon technology, this is a state that responds with organizational reflexes," she added, stressing that Israel disregards most fundamental rules of international law.

"Currently in Palestine, a belligerent state is clearly committing war crimes, amounting to crimes against humanity, in violation of universal humanitarian values and international law. We cannot regard such atrocities as a problem that only affects Palestine, the region, or Muslim countries," she said.

People with a conscience, from East to West, are standing up for the just cause of Palestine, and millions of people are protesting Israel's "atrocities" in streets, squares and on university campuses across the globe, Erdoğan added.

Turning to the recent United for Peace in Palestine Summit in Istanbul, the first lady said that Türkiye continues its intense efforts to announce the "massacre" to the world and stop the attacks.

"Our country will continue to make efforts to provide all kinds of support to the Palestinian people fully within the scope of humanitarian aid efforts.

"I must emphasize that Türkiye remains as one of the key countries for solving the crises and problems in the region. We are ready to make the necessary efforts, including as a guarantor, to preserve the peace to be established in this context," she said.


Erdoğan called on all international actors to cooperate to achieve a long-term peace in Gaza.

About the increase in military support from the US to Israel, she said that fanning the flames of the conflict is "in the simplest terms to participate in this massacre."

"The fuses, which the US helped Israel acquire, target the hospitals, newborns in incubators in intensive care, schools, mosques and churches, as well as ambulances carrying patients and refugee camps. Who can therefore assert that Washington plays a constructive role in the conflict, given that they themselves are complicit in this heinous act?"

The unwavering support given to Tel Aviv by a country that projects itself "as the leader of the West" leads to the deepening of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and even poses a threat to global peace and order, Erdoğan said.

Türkiye calls on all countries that want a just, lasting peace for the region and for the world to listen to the cry of the people for peace, not to silence it, she said, adding: "They need to mobilize all their resources to end the conflicts and to call on all parties to comply with international law."

Ankara also prioritizes the establishment of a cease-fire and the continued delivery of humanitarian aid above all else, she said.

On Israel's policy of blocking aid destined for the region, Erdoğan said: "We reject the punishment meted out to Gaza, which has already been ravaged, and to the innocent citizens who live there."

"Every conscientious person's red line should be the life of an innocent person taken for a crime he did not commit, or a baby's tear, or a child's cry of 'I want to live.'"

"When chemical weapons were dropped on children, when civilian settlements, including UN institutions, were targeted, and when humanitarian aid workers pleaded for help in letters, a red line should have been crossed for all of us. In our religion, the killing of an innocent person is akin to the 'death of humanity'," Erdoğan said.

On the global community's silence in the face of attacks that have been going on for weeks, she said: "Türkiye will fight for a worldwide understanding that welcomes people with compassion and sees them as intrinsically important, regardless of language, religion, or ethnicity.

"We will go to whatever length to restore trust, stability and peace in the region and across the world."

Ankara supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Israel has launched relentless air and ground attacks on the Gaza Strip -- including hospitals, residences and houses of worship -- since a cross-border attack by the Palestinian resistance group Hamas on Oct. 7.

At least 13,300 Palestinians have been killed, including 5,600 children and 3,550 women.

Thousands of buildings, including hospitals, mosques and churches, have also been damaged or destroyed in Israel's relentless air and ground attacks on the besieged enclave.

The Israeli death toll is around 1,200, according to official figures.