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MIDEAST > Turkish PM cautions defiant Israel over Gaza raid

CAIRO / JERUSALEM

PM Erdoğan warns Israel of the consequences of continuing its Gaza strikes, but a bellicose Israeli PM hints at an expansion of the raids

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Smoke rises after Israeli forces strike Gaza City. The Israeli military has widened its range of targets in the Gaza Strip to include the media operations of the Palestinian territory’s Hamas rulers. AP photo

Smoke rises after Israeli forces strike Gaza City. The Israeli military has widened its range of targets in the Gaza Strip to include the media operations of the Palestinian territory’s Hamas rulers. AP photo

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused Israel of deliberately striking Gaza ahead of the elections in both 2008 and today, but urged that “the conditions of 2012 are different than they were in 2008.” He also called for an immediate cease-fire to be observed.

“Israel also attacked Gaza in 2008 prior to elections. Now elections are coming again and it is doing the same thing” Erdoğan told a Turkish-Egyptian Business Forum in Cairo yesterday.

“I am calling on [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu. We are not in 2008. We are in 2012 and conditions are different than 2008. Make your calculations correctly,” Anatolia news agency quoted him as saying.

Call for immediate truce

Erdoğan reiterated that a cease-fire should be declared immediately. “I’m calling on Israel and Gaza to provide a cease-fire immediately, within 24 hours. Extending the situation won’t bring anything to either side,” he said.

He criticized Western powers for wanting to pull the Arab world to pieces. “While Israel is attacking and sabotaging the peace, there will be no security or stability for any country in the region,” he said.
Erdoğan said Turkey wished to see a cease-fire declared in Gaza immediately, while Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi told him that there were “some indications” a ceasefire could be reached soon, but said he had no firm guarantees.

“The party using disproportionate force is obvious,” Erdoğan said in a press conference with Morsi following the meeting of Turkey-Egypt High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council in Cairo on Nov. 17, according to Reuters. “Humanity will not forgive this if sovereign countries defend injustice under the guise of preserving Israel and its security,” he said.

“This hypocrisy should end. These double standards should end,” Erdoğan said.

“I had a telephone conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the issue. I asked them to convince Israel and to give an important assurance. Israel did not accord with the previous Cairo ceasefire agreement, and I told them that this could not be repeated again.” Erdoğan also met the Arab League’s Secretary General Nabil Elaraby and Qatar’s Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani yesterday, in order to discuss the situation in Gaza.

Israel vows to ‘expand’ Gaza op

Israel continued its strikes on Gaza over the weekend, bringing the death toll in the Palestinian territory to 55, while vowing to continue to “expand” its operation despite international efforts to effect a truce.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said yesterday that Israel would not negotiate a truce with the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers as long as rocket fire continues from the Palestinian enclave.

“The first and absolute condition for a truce is stopping all fire from Gaza,” he said before meeting French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, adding that all militant factions in Gaza would have to commit to ceasing rocket fire. “We want a long-term arrangement,” Lieberman said.

Gaza death toll rises

His remarks came on the fifth day of strikes on Gaza which have left 55 people dead, while militants from the strip have fired hundreds of rockets at Israel, one of which killed three, Agence France-Presse reported.

Earlier yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was ready to “significantly expand” its operation against militants in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip even as he prepared to receive Fabius. “We are extracting a heavy price from Hamas and the terror organizations,” Netanyahu said at a weekly Cabinet meeting. “The army is prepared to significantly expand the operation.”

Netanyahu said he was holding ongoing talks with world leaders, “and we appreciate their understanding of Israel’s right to self-defense.” His remarks came as thousands of Israeli troops backed by amor massed along the border, fueling fears of a ground assault.

Three of yesterday’s youngest victims were named as 3-year-old Tamer Abu Saifan and his 1-year-old sister Jumana, as well as 18-month-old Iyyad Abu Khusa.

A missile strike on the beachfront Shati refugee camp in Gaza City killed Tasneem al-Nahal, 13, and another adult member of her family, the Hamas-run Health Ministry and witnesses said. Aircraft also hit two media centers in Gaza City, wounding at least eight journalists, one of whom lost a leg, ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said. Two Anatolia news agency reporters and one driver accompanying them were also wounded in a second strike on the media center.

In Tel Aviv, sirens sounded for the fourth straight day, sending pedestrians and drivers running for cover.

Seven rockets have been fired at Tel Aviv since Nov. 15, with three hitting the sea, three intercepted by Iron Dome and another slamming into open ground.

November/19/2012

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READER COMMENTS

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Turk down under

11/20/2012 3:12:20 PM

Ilker. Netanyahu has had to sell his soul making coalitions with far right and religious parties to ensure a win. We should all live in hope of a centre left party but I'm telling you the man has won it hands down. There just isn't any competition. It's the same in Turkiye with AKP-the alternatives are weak.

Lior Uziel

11/20/2012 10:21:09 AM

I don't know whether comments here are based on ignorance or propaganda. Israel started the operation due to increase of rockets and missiles fired for the last couple of months. From once a week, to once a day, to several times a day. Civilians can't live their lives when several times a day, with the sound of siren, children and women are supposed to run with the next 15 seconds to a shelter. The aim is not to kill Palestinians (even though Hamas warriors shoot from within) but to stop rockets

Thessalonian

11/20/2012 12:17:07 AM

Mr. Erdogan is making a spectacle out of Turkey and furthermore, is burning all of Turkey's diplomatic bridges with the Western world. That includes the EU, the US, Canada, Australia and countless others. The Kurdish issue will not go away and will not be solved with someone such as him at the helm. His apparent and most obvious lack of diplomatic skills, his boorish temperamet and hypocritical self righteousness are indeed deplorable. Too bad... Regards

Oscar siper

11/19/2012 11:58:38 PM

All those negative comments coming from those short sided people, They only please themselves with there negative posts. The people are not stupid, they see the truth via the net and the tube.Isreal is killing mercilesly. and say and do anything to justifiy there cause.SHAME ON YOU ISREAL

henry laycock laycock

11/19/2012 10:52:17 PM

How to win elections in Israel these days? Just go out and kill Palestinians!

ilker avni

11/19/2012 9:29:46 PM

@ Gerald Seltzer Thats not true,go back two weeks Nov4th Israel killed a hadicapped man with a mind of a child who was shot for sport in the legs and then shot in the head.Shown on Al- Jazeera and its on You tube.few days later IDF shot and killed five year old giirl Nov 10 Israel used f-16 to kill hamas command leader.They did same to Lebanons prime minster useing drones and blamed Hezbollah.Israel behaves above int law.even Israels frends find it hard to justify they crimes.

Arnold Yesovitch

11/19/2012 9:28:24 PM

Mr Erdogan. Did it ever occur to you that it is Hamas that wanted to influence the outcome of the election by escalating the rocket attacks on Israel ?

hisham majed

11/19/2012 8:50:15 PM

Gerard.....Iran's Nuclear Programme is peaceful. All US intelligence agencies plus the IAEA has stated that there is no proof that Iran's nuclear programme has a military aspect to it. Its only Israel and its seem yourself that know something everyone else is unaware off.

Richard Kolchin

11/19/2012 6:43:04 PM

Israel could easily kill a million civilians. "The Operation in Gaza: Factual and Legal Aspects," available online, shows the extraordinary effort Israel makes to minimize civilian deaths. There's no complaint from the UN or Erdogan when Palestinians fire missiles at civilians or antitank missiles at schoolbuses. There's no objection to the stated goal of Hamas & Islamic Jihad to destroy Israel. Only Israeli retaliation is protested. Netanyahu wants peace with Palestine; but not with suicide.

GERARD SELTZER

11/19/2012 5:40:55 PM

Why doesn't Turkey admit that Iran is sacrificing the people of Gaza and also even Hamas, to divert attention from ist nuclear bomb making project. Iran supplies the missiles and orders them to be fired into Israel. Israel will invade Gaza and destroy Hamas' war machinery. It will take aboiut two weeks to do the job. Then Israel will bomb Iran's bunkers with US made bombs.
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